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i:^ 5^ o^ i:^. ^^^ i:^. "^2^ 

OF THK 

PRINCETON, N. J. 



•X o::^ OB- 



SAMUEL AGNEW, 

OF PHILADELPHIA, PA. 



i^ez. 



QTo. 



yh<7^c^ yc$~y^§^s. 






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() Case^ -Division.. ;?^?>C^.. I 

5: SJtclf, Section,.: 

V Book, ^^^ V,Z ^ 



SERMONS 



O N 



VARIOUS SUBJECTS. 



Containing, 



I. Religion and Virtue, confidered 
under the Notion of Wifdom. 

II. The Excellency of Wifdom. 

III. The Ways of Wifdom, Ways 
of Pleafantnefs. 

IV. Wifdom the Strength of the 
Mind. 

V. The Favour ef God, obtained 
by Wifdom. 

V I. Long-Life, Riches, and Hon- 
our, the Fruits of Wifdom. 

VII. The Love of Wifdom, ne. 
ceffary to the attaining of it. 

VIII. Diligence in fceking Wif- 
dom always fuccefiful. 



IX. Sclf-Government efTcntiai to 
Wifdom. 

X. The Proud and Scornful inca- 
pable of attaining to Wildom. 

XI. Attending to public Inftrudlion, 
and other Inrtrumentul Duties, 
recommended. 

XIL Walking with Wife Men, a. 
Means of attaining to Wifdoin. 

XIII. The Foundation of Confi- 
dence towards God explained. 

XIV. Gn the fame Subjea. 

XV. Walking by Faith and not by 
Sight, explained and recom- 
mended. 



By JOHN ABERNETHT, M. A. 



VOL. III. 



LONDON: 

Printed for D.Browne, without Temple-Bar; C. Davis, 
in Holborn-y and A.Millar, oppolite Katherine-Jireet in 
the Strand. 

M.DCC.LI. 



CONTENTS. 

S B R iM O N I. 

Religion and Virtue confidercd under 
the Notion of Wifdom, 

Pfov. i. I, 2, 3, 4. 

^he Proverbs of Solomon the Son of David, 

king of Ifrael : ^0 know wifdom and in- 

JlruBiony to perceive words of iinderfland- 

ing ; to receive the injirudfion of wifdofn^ 

jufiice, and judgment^ and equity -, to give 

Jubtilty to the fimple, to the young man 

knowledge and difcretion. Page i 

Sermon IL 
The Excellency of Wi5D0M„ 

Prov. viii. 6, 7. 
jlear^ for I will [peak of excellent things ^ and 
the opening of my Lipsfjall be right things ; 
for my mouth foall fpeak truth. P* 3^ 



A 2 S B R- 



CONTENTS. 

Sermon III. 

The Ways of Wifdom, Ways of 

Pleafantnefs. 

Prov. iii. 17. 
Her ways are ways of fleafinfnefsy and all 
her paths are 'peace. P- 5^ 

Sermon IV. 
Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 

Prov. xxiv. 5. 
A ni'ife man is firong^ yea a man of knowledge 
increajeth Jlrength. p. 86 

Sermon V. 

The Favour of God obtained by 

Wifdom. 

Prov. viii. 35. 
IVbofo findeth me findeth lifcy and fiall obtain 
fwjoiir of the Lord. P* 114 

Sermon VI. 

Long-hfe, Riches, and Honour, 

the Fruits of Wifdom. 

Prov. iii. 16. 
Length of days is in kcr right- handy, and in 
her left-hand ricfjes ofid honour, p. 140 

S ER- 



CONTENTS. 

Sermon VII. 

The Love of Wifdom necefiary to 
the attaining of it. 

Prov. viii. 17. 
/ love them that love me, and thofe thatfeek me 
early fiall find me. p. 166 

Sermon VIII. 

Diligence in feeking Wifdom always 

fuccefsful. 

Prov. viii. 17, 
Ihofe that feek me early Jhallfnd me, p. 1 90 

Sermon IX. 
Self-government effential to Wifdom. 

Prov. XXV. 28. 
He that hath no rule over his own fptrity is 
like a city broken down, and without walls. 

p. 2 14 
Sermon X. 

The Proud and Scornful incapable 
of attaining to Wifdom. 

Prov. xiv. 6. 
A /corner feeketh wifdom and findeth it not. 

p. 240 

S E R- 



CONTENTS. 

Sermon XI. 

Attending to publick Inftrudion, and 
other inftrumental Duties, recom- 
mended. 

Prov. viii. 34. 

Bleffcd is the man that heareth me^ watching 
daily at my gates^ waiting at the poJIs of 
my doors, p. 267 

S E R M O N XIL- 

Walking with Wife-men, a Mean^ 
of attaining to Wifdom. 

Prov. xlii. 20. 
He that ivaJketh with wife men fall be wife: 

P- 293 
Sermon XlII. 

The Foundation of Confidence to- 
wards Gqj> explained. 

1 John ill. 19, 20, 21. 

\And hereby we know that we are of the truth ^ 
and Jhalt ajjure cur hearts before him. Fof^ 
if cur hearts condemn us^ God is greater 
than our hearts^ and knoweth all things ; be^ 
loved^ if our hearts condemn us not^ theti 
have we confidence towards God. ?• 3 1 >^ 

< S E R"' 



C O N r E M T S. 

S E R IVI O N XIV. 

On. tlie fame Sub]e6l. 



44 



S E R M o ;^ XV- 

Walking by Faith, not by Sight^ cx^ 
plained and recommended. 

2 Corinth, v. 7. 
For we ivalk by faith^ net hy ftght. p. 3 70 



PHIITCETOII 



■THEOLOGICAL // 



,r PEIITCJETOIT 



TIII^JOLOQIOJlL 








SER- 



[ I] 
SERMON I. 

Religion and Virtue, confidered 
under the Notion of Wisdom. 



PROVERBS I. I, 2, 3,4. 

The pro'verhs of Solo??i07i the fen of David^ 
king of Ifrael : To knoiv ivifdoni and in-^ 
JiruSfion, to perceive words of under jl and- 
ing 'y to receive the injlrudiion of ivifdom^ 
jujliccy and judgment, and equity j to give 
fubtilty to the fimple, to the young man 
knowledge and difcretion, 

AN Y one who readeth the proverbs 3 e R m; 
of Solofnon attentively, will fee that !• 
the principal fcope of them is to 
teach men wifdom. His manner of writing 
is, indeed, fuch, that no one fubjeiS is me- 
thodically treated by him, the whole book 
being no more than a colle6tion of wife 
moral fayings, without any coherence, fome 
probably wrote down by himfelf, and fome 
extra<5led afterwards out of other writings 
which are not now extant ; of the former 
Vol. III. B fort 



2 Religion and Virtue, 

SERM.fort fcem to be the firil twenty-four chap-* 
I. ters, and of the latter, the remaining part 
of the book, under this title, chap. xxv. i . 
'Thefe are alfo proverbs of Solo?no?iy which 
the men of Hezekiah copied out. But though 
the writing is of this unconnected kind, yet 
one may plainly fee a general defign in it, 
which the author keepeth always in his 
view ; that is, to reclaim the fimple from 
their folly, by giving them a jufl notion, 
and a true tafle of real wifdom ; and to 
furnifh men in general with fuch inftruc- 
tions, fuch excellent rules of life, as might 
be profitable to diredt their whole behaviour. 
Thus he beginneth, fetting forth the wri* 
tcr's chief aim, and by its excellence be- 
fpeaking the attention of the reader. The 
proverbs of Solomon the f on of David king of 
Ifrael j to know wifdom and i7iJlru5lion ; to 
perceive words of underftanding -, to receive 
the infiruBions of wifdom, j^^fti^^-, and judg- 
ment, and equity ; to give fuhtilty to the 
fimple ; to the young 7nan knowledge and dif 
cretion, Befides a great many fcattered 
hints, in almoft every chapter, which fet 
the counfels of the excellent moralifl in the 
amiable light of wifdom, underftanding, 
and difcretion, he fometimcs, as in the 3d, 

4 the 



chnfidcred imder the Notion ofWifdom. 3 

the 8th, and 9th chapters, doth defignedly, Serm. 

and even out of his profeiTed method, that ^ ^^• 

is, more largely than in the way of pro- 
Verbs,' infift on the beauty and excellence of 
wifdom, inviting men fcriouily and fleadily 
to contemplate her charr^s, that they may 
admire her inftrudions, .and give themfelves 
up to her condu6t, 

Wifdom is introduced in the dramatick 
way (which is an antient, and, when well 
managed, a very ufeful way of writing) as 
a divine perfon appearing in a very lovely- 
form, difplaying her native worth and 
beauty ; and by the moft powerful pcrfua- 
fives, and the mofl affectionate manner of 
addrefs, foliciting the degenerate fons of 
men to hearken to her eounfels for their 
good. The reafonablenefs and happy ef- 
fects of our complying with her propofals 
are reprefented, and the vanity of all thofe 
things which rival wifdom for our aftedions, 
is fully fhewn. The means, and the necef- 
fary difpofitions on our part^ in order to our 
attaining the true difcretion here juftly cele- 
brated, are particularly mentioned, and thofe 
prejudices laid open, with the folly and un- 
reafonablenefs of them, which fhut mens 
minds, and harden their hearts againfl it. 

B z With 



4 Religion and VlrtuCy 

Serm. With thefe things in our view as its mam 
•»• defign, let us carefully read the Book of 
Proverbs, Some perhaps negleft and dif- 
regard it 'as dry morality j but certainly it 
containeth pure religion^ and undejiled beforlt 
Cod the Father, excellent rules for the con- 
dudl of life -, and it marketh out the way 
in which alone we can hope for the divine 
acceptance, and the folid peace which ari- 
feth from the teflimony of an approving 
confcience. That you may read it with the 
greater advantage, I will endeavour, in this 
difcourfe, to explain the nature, charad:ersj 
and ufes of the wifdom of which it treateth ; 
and making that the ftandard, we may try 
fome things which have the appearance of 
wifdom, and, perhaps, correcfl fome wrong 
notions we have entertained in a matter of 
fo great importance : and by that amiable 
character, which muft be high in the efteem 
of every conliderate perfon, if it appeareth 
to be juflly applied, we may be induced to 
confent to, and pra<5tife the rules Solomon 
prefcribeth. 

In general, it is very plain that what this 

author meaneth by wifdom, is true religion 

and virtue ; whether it be worthy of that 

name, efpecially in the peculiar and diftin- 

2 guiihing 



cunfider-cd under the Notion oj JVifdom, ' f 
guifhing manner he giveth it, in oppofition S e R M« 
to every thing eUe that pretends to it, I •■• 
fhall afterwards confider ; at prefent, I ob- 
ferve, that what lie meaneth by wifdom, is 
rehgion and virtue; and you will fee it to 
be fo, if you look into the following paf- 
fages in the 7th verfe of this chapter ; T/jf 
fear of the Lord is the beginning of know^ 
kdge ; which was a principle Solomon learn- 
ed from his pious father, to whofe inflruc- 
tions he often refers in this book, and ac- 
knowledgeth his great obligations to them. 
This was i)<2^v^s dodlrine, FfaL cxi. 10. 
and indeed it was a maxim received by wife 
men in ages long before theirs, as you may 
fee in fob xxviii. 28. where it is reprefented 
to be the fum of what God taught men, as 
the fubftance of their duty, and their moft 
important concern. The fear of the Lord, 
in the ftile of the facred writers, fignifieth 
univerfal religion, becaufe it is an eminent 
part of it, proper enough therefore, by an 
ufual way of fpcaking, to defer ibe the whole; 
and becaufe it is a principle which, when 
the mind is duly poflefTed with, and brought 
thoroughly under its power, cannot fail of 
producing obedience to all the command- 
ments of God. As cTcry branch oi virtue 

B 3 is 



■6 • ' Religion and Virtue, 

Serm.is enjoined by the divine precepts, which 
I- fl:iew us ail that is morally good with re- 
fpe(^ to ourfelves and our fellow-creatures> 
as well as to God, lb true religion is nothing 
. elfe but the praidtice of virtue, from a regard 
to the Deity. The fear of the Lord, if we 
underftand it in the ftri^teft fenfe, qf a pi- 
ous reverence for the fupreme Being, with 
a difpofition to do his will, is called the be- 
ginning of wifdom^ as being a very eminent: 
part of our duty, or rather a principle na- 
turally productive of that righteoufnefs and 
goodnefs in which true wisdom confilleth : 
If we take it in a greater latitude, as inclu- 
ding with the principle all its genuine fruits, 
in an univerfal conformity to the will of 
God, then it is the whole duty of man, as 
Solomon fays, Ecclef. xii. 13. and comprcr 
hendeth all which the facred writers call 
wifdom. So Job delivereth the dod:rine in 
the place already referr'd to, Unto ?nan Lk' 
[aid, The fear cf the Lord, that is wifdor/i -, 
and to depart from evil, is iinderjlanding. 

Again j the ' wifdom which Solomon re- 
commendeth is called the knowledge cf 
the Hcl)\ chap. ix. 10. where the princi- 
ple already mentioned, is repeated in the 
fame words, .'The fear of the Lord is the be- 
ginning 



confJcrcd under the Notion of Wifdom. 7 

ginning of wifdom; and it is explained thus, Serm: 
the knowledge of the Holy is underjiaiiding. -*• 
They are religious things about which it is 
converfant j the deepefl: penetration in other 
matters,, the highefl attainments in humaa 
fciences and arts, an.d the exadtefl judgment 
in the affairs of this worlds will not intitle 
any one to the chara(Sler of wife, according 
to the do(5trine of this excellent author j but 
an acquaintance with, divine objeds, and 
with the duty we owe to God, is, accord- 
ing to him, the trueft underftanding. Nei- 
ther is it meer fpeculative knowledge even 
of religion he meaneth j the inftrudlions of 
wifdom do. all tend to practice j and the 
conformity of our lives to its rules is that 
only which will denominate us wife men in 
Solomon's account,, Pt^ov. xxviii. 7.. Whofo 
keepeth the law, is a wife [on. 

Befides thefe general declarations, which 
are very comprqhenfive, taking in every part 
of our duty, and which plainly fhew the 
defign of the Proverbs is to reprefent the 
wifdom of univerfal righteoufnefs 5, the cha- 
.rad:er of wifdom is applied to particular vir- 
tues, and it is faid to qonfiH in them, as in 
the text, ver. 3. To receive the injirudiions of 
mjdom^ jiifiice^ and judgment y 'and equity. 
B 4 Juftice 



S Religion and Virtue, 

^ERM. Juflicc IS a very important branch of our 
^' duty, a virtue which we have frequent oc- 
cafion for the exercife of in life ; it diredeth 
a great part of our behaviour towards man* 
kind, injoineth us to preferve the rights of 
men inviolable, and to render to all their 
due, to do as we would be done by, with- 
out being warped by a regard to any feliifh 
or private intereft. Perhaps there is not 
any thing in religion itfelf more difagree- 
able to the wifdom of the world ; for, gene- 
rally, men make their own intereft the chief 
end of their policy, and form their fchemes 
for private advantage, without caring to dif- 
tinguifh nicely between right and wrong; 
and hov/ever they may efteem inflexible 
righteoufnefs, as virtue and religion, yet it 
is far from being: accounted wifdom. But 
not to enter upon an inquiry into the truth 
of the cafe, whether juftice be only a kind 
of religious fimplicity, or real wifdom, 
founded on the befl maxims, and worthieft 
of an intelligent nature, and conducive to 
all the ends it ought to purfue ; or if that 
cunning which deviateth from integrity, 
ufeth fraud and indiredt arts to promote fel- - 
fi{h ends, be true difcretion, and becoming 
the underllanding of a man ; without inqui- 
ring 



coTifidercd under the "Notion of Wifdom. 9 

ring into this, I fay, it is fufficient to my S e R M. 
prefent purpofe, that juflice, judgment, and I- 
equity, are the wifdom which Solomon in- 
culcateth. 

Another virtue, which he recommendeth 
under the fame character, is chaftity. This 
he very often infifteth upon, particularly in 
the 2d, the 5th, and 7th chapters, proving 
at large the iimplicity and thoughtlefnefs 
of the adulterer, who, with the infenfibility 
of a beaft, is caught in the toil, and flupidly 
falls into the fnare which is laid for him. 
The men who abandon themfelves to the 
purfuit of difhonourable and irregular plea- 
fures, fondly imagine there is a great deal 
of art and contrivance in their management; 
they are the men, in their own conceit, of 
deep intrigue, and refined underftanding, 
valuing themfelves upon the little artifices, 
whereby they feduce the unhappy partners 
of their crimes, and impofe upon thofe 
whom they injure. But all this, in the judg- 
ment of Solomon^ is extreme folly ; and the 
fenfelefs wretch, deprived of all reafon, is 
only hafling to his ruin, as an ox goeth to 
tlje Jlaughtei\ or, as a fool to the corrcBion 
of the flocks. The intemperate will not, 
perhaps, pretend to the charadtcr of wife ; 

they 



lo Religion and Virtue^ 

S E R M. they fatisfy themfelves with their fenfual 

!• gratifications as the beft enjoyments, having 
endeavoured to drov^n all fenfe of fuperior 
excellence ; they decry wifdom, and treat it 
with contempt, as too rigid and folemn for 
that gaiety in which they chufe to Ipend 
their days. But if we v/ill take our notions 
of things from this writer, voluptuoufnefg 
and excefles in eating and drinking are di^ 
redtly contrary to wifdom, w^hich guardetb 
her votaries againft them as mofl pernicious^ 
ProiJ. xxiii. 19. Hear thou ^ my fin ^ a?id be 
moife, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not 
amongft wine-bibbers, amongjl riotous eaters 
cf jiejh J for the drunkard and the glutton 
Jhall come to poverty ; and drowfinefs Jhall 
cloath a man with rags, Slothfulnefs, ^ 
lazy jftupid ina(flivity and indolence, is a 
'vice very, incident to human Nature j and 
they who give themfelves up to it vainly 
fancy they take the wifeft courfe, avoiding 
many dangers, and a great deal of painful 
toil and labour j the fluggard is wifer in 
his own conceit than f even men that can ren- 
der a reafon : But in this book he is charged 
with brutifh folly, and even fent to the 
bealts, as wifer than he,^ to be inflrudied by 
them, Prov, vi. 6. Go to the ant, thou Jlug- 

- gard^ 



cofiJiHered under the Notion of Wijdom. 1 1 

^ardy confider her ways^ and be wife. And, Ser M, 
on the contrary, diligence is preiTed as true I. 
wifdom. It is plain too, that the wifdom 
Solomon teacheth comprehends the right go- 
yernment of the tongue, which other infpi- 
red writers reprefcnt as an eminent branch 
pf religion, diredling us when to be filent, 
jind when to fpeak ; but efpecially he di- 
fedleth us to keep the heart, retraining fu- 
rious paffions, prelerving equanimity and 
por^ipofure of fpirit, and exerciling humility 
and tnceknefs. 

c. 3tit I need not infift on particulars ; every 
pne mufl be convinced that folly is, accord- 
ing to the judgment of Splomon, the cha- 
rader of every vice ; and wifdom, of every 
virtue j and that his intention is to fet moral 
good and eidl in that light, that we may 
cKufe the one, and refufe the other. If any 
are inclined -to become his difciples, and to 
form their livf s by his inftrudtions, there is 
nothing they mult be fo careful to preferve 
fls their integrity, and with the utmofl cau- 
tion tliey muil avoid every fin i to accom- 
pli(h which ends is the invaluable benefit 
iie propofeth by the wifdpm he hath taught. 
When vice, of any fort, hath the greatefl 
outward advantages on its fide, when mul- 
titudes 



12 Religion and Virtue^ 

S E R M. titudes are combined to enrich themfelves 

I. by its unlawful gains j by their united coun- 
fels projects are form'd, and by their united 
force to be executed, fo that there is the 
greateft probability of fuccefs ; and honours, 
profit, and pleafure, are in profped: to be 
attained by unrighteous methods, it is the 
province of wifdom to preferve us from the 
fnare, and to deliver us from all crooked 
and forbidden paths; chap. i. lo. My fin ^ 
when fmners entice thee^ confent thou not. 
And, chap. ii. ii, 12. Difcretion Jhnll pre^- 
fevue thee, under jlanding Jhall keep thee, to 
deliver thee from the way of the evil man. 
And v/hereas in all the affairs and circum* 
fiances of life we are furrounded with temp* 
tations, and our own frailty is apt to betray 
us into fnares of one kind or other, the 
wifdom Solomon recommendeth is propofed 
as an univerfal defence and antidote againft 
all evil, and that which will eifedually pre* 
ferve us from every deftrudive way. Chap, 
iii. 21. My fon, keep found wifdom and dif 
cretion, fo fhall they he life unto thy foul, 
and grace to thy neck -, then fljalt thou walk 
in thy way fafely, and thy foot fhall not 
fliimble^ 

. This 



confidered under the Notion of Wifdom, 1 3 

This, I think, is fufficient to anfwer theSERM. 
defign I at firft propofed, that is, to (hew !• 
the nature, charaders, and ufes of the wif- 
dom Solomon recommendeth in the Proverbs, 
But there are two obfervations farther to be 
made, which both the nature of the fubjed:, 
and the exprefs declarations of the author 
dired: us to. The iirft is, that virtue and 
integrity, to be preferved from the ways of 
fin and wickednefs, that it may amount to 
true wifdom, mufl be the refult of delibe- 
ration and choice. Wifdom is the quality 
of a free felf-determining agent, whole 
fprings of a(ftion are under the guidance of 
his own underflanding j chance, or necef- 
fity, or outward impulfe, have no part in 
it. If you fuppofe a perfon retrained from 
any vicious courfe by force, or that he efca- 
peth it by a natural incapacity, or by acci- 
dent, without any defign of his own, with- 
out any exercife of underftanding, or confi- 
deration of the grounds he goeth upon ; the 
innocence of his life, if it may be called (o^ 
hath nothing in it of wifdom, and therefore 
nothing of virtue. Difcretion confifteth ia 
weighing maturely the motives of adtion, 
in comparing them together, and being de- 
termined freely by that which, upon the 

whole. 



14- Religion and Viriue; 

Serm. whole, appeareth to be the juftefl: and the 

^* beft. From which it is a plain confequence; 
that the more calrii and fedate, the more 
dehberate and free our minds are in ailing, 
our condud: is the wifer and the better. 
For a man to flumble into the right road,- 
or be hurried with -vehemence, without con-^ 
fidering whether he goeth, or ^hat he is 
doing, is not worthy to be called either 
wife or good. A contrary accident or im- 
pulfe, for any thing in him to prevent it, 
tnight as well have driven him the oppofitc 
way. And in this confifteth the folly of a 
wicked courfe of life, that the unhappy 
finner, as the prophet fpeaketh, Ifaiah xlvi. 
8. doth 7iQt Jhew himfclf a man ; he doth 
not a(St, according to the privilege of his 
nature, as the refult of a calm inquiry into 
the motives of adlion, but rather is acfled 
upon by external objecfls, driven by his ap- 
petites and paffions, the weight which 
moves the brutal kind, or as if human na- 
ture were meerly a piece of meclianifm. 
Solomcn^ account is this, chap. xiv. 8. That 
it is the wifdom of the prudent to tinderftand 
his way ', and ver. 15. The fimple believeth 
'every word, but the prudent man looketh well 
to his goings. Therefore he giveth this di* 

reition 



corjldered ujider the Notion of Wifdom. 1 5 

red:ion, chap. iv. 20. My fon, attend to ;;/ySERM. 
'words J incline thine ear to my Jayings. A ^ -l* 
rafli, inconliderate, thoughtlefs conduft, 
mufl come {liort of religion, becaufe it is 
unworthy of wifdom j for it is plain, by all 
the notions which our reafon fuggefteth to 
us of the Deity, he will mofl approve his 
reafonable creatures when they ad: the moft 
deliberately, and have impartially confidered 
all things which ought to determine them, 
in order to their making the bell choice 
they can. It followeth then, that the more 
precipitately we ad, ftill the lefs religioully, 
if religion be indeed wifdom ; and always 
when we find ourfcives vehemently prefied 
to any defigns.or meafures, fo as to exclude 
confideration, which is often the unhappi- 
nefs of men, . we have the more reafon to 
fufped: that, our minds are under an undue 
influence, and in a tempted ftate ; for con- 
fideration leadeth to virtue and religion, but 
the views of fin and folly fhun it as a mortal 
enemy. . .. 

The fecond obfervation from the account 
which this book giveth us of religious vir- 
tue, and the light in which it places it as- 
wifdom, is, that a good man ufeth forefight, 
and looketh to the lafl iflue of things, that 



1 6 Religion and Virtue <^ 

SERM.y^ he may direift his behaviour. Wifdom 

I. confifteth in forming defigns fuited to the 
dignity of our nature, and purfuing them 
by the beft means in our power. Religion, 
then, could never juflly be called wifdom, 
if it had not a view to the future confe- 
quences of our prefent conduct, fecuring 
the greatefl perfection and felicity that can 
be hoped for. No man can be efteemed 
wife, who is infenfible to his own true in- 
terell: ; for it is an inclination infeparable 
from human nature, and juftified by the 
iiri(fteft reafon, to feek after happinefs ; it is 
a maxim which no one will deny, 'Job xxii. 
2. He that is wife, is profitable to himfelf-y 
which Solomon applies to his wife man, that 
is, the virtuous, who in the beft manner 
provideth for his own fafety and happinefs ; 
Frov, ix. 12. If thou be wife, thou fhalt be 
wife for thyfelf-, but if thou fcornefl, thou 
clone fhalt bear it. Though virtue doth 
iiand on another foot, and there is really 
fuch a thing as moral excellence, neceffarily 
acknowledged and approved by our minds, 
abflTad:ing from all confideration of intereft, 
yet is it very much ftrengthened, and intel- 
ligent creatures reafonably eftabliflied in their 
choice of it, and their refolution to adhere 

to 



conjidcred wider the Notion ofWifdom. \j 

to it againft all temptations, by this afTu-SERM. 
ranee, that it Ihall not hurt, but rather fe- ^' 
cure their happinefs, which hath been ac- 
knowledged to be the tendency of virtue, 
wherever any jufl: notions of it have ob- 
tained in the world. If men believe there 
is a Cod, wife, juft, and good, they mufl 
conclude that righteoufnels is pleafing to 
him i and if the foul is immortal, and fhall 
fubfiil in another Hate, they who have done 
good in this life, have the befl hope of be- 
ing diilinguiflied by the fiivour of the Deity 
in the next. Thefe are matters about which 
the facred rule of our religion hath not left 
us in the dark, as the heathens were j but 
taught us, with the greatefl: clearnefs and 
certainty, the wifdom of obedience to God's 
laws, and the folly of difobedience ; becaufe 
he hath appointed a day in "which he will 
judge men by 'Jefiis Chrijt^ according to their 
works. And thus purfuing his main fcope, 
and delivering his inftrudtions agreeably io 
liis grand principle, that virtue is wifdom, 
and that vice and wickednefs is extreme 
folly : Solomon fays, chap. xxii. 3. A prudent 
fjian forefeeth the evil, and hideth him/elf; 
but the Jimple pafs on, and are punijhed. 
Again 3 the religious govern themfslves by 
Vox. III. C a 



i8 Religion and Virtue, 

S E R M. a cautious forefight of the unhappy confe- 
I* quences of a finful courfe, and by views 
truly fublime, and far above this world. 
Chap. XV. 24. The way of life is above to 
the wife, that he may depart from hell be- 
neath. 

Having proceeded fo far, and endeavoured 
to fhew you what the wifdom is which So- 
lomon fo much celebrateth in this book, per- 
fuading us to fludy it, and conform our- 
felves to its rules, it would be, in the next 
place, very proper to conlider the truth of 
his doftrine \ to inquire whether religion, 
univerfal righteoufnefs, goodnefs, tempe- 
rance, meeknefs, chaftity, and all the other 
virtues in which he placeth wifdorsi, be re- 
ally worthy of that character. If it be fo, 
then certainly the fear of the Lord, with 
the whole fyftem of virtues which it inclu- 
deth, or which depend upon it, mufl be 
high in our efleem j for we cannot help va- 
luing wifdom as the proper improvement of 
our reafon ; to think meanly and contemp- 
tuoufly of it, would be to forget ourfelves, 
and to difparage what mufl be acknow- 
ledged to be the excellence of our nature. 
But the pretences to wifdom, it is fuppo- 
fed, every man muft have leave to examine, 
2 and 



€onfidcred under the 'Notion of Wtfdom. 1 9 

and to judge for himfelfj obedience maySERM. 
be demanded by mere authority j the fub- I. 
jed: is not at Hberty to enquire into the rea- ^"'^ 
fons of what is enjoined by his fuperior ; but 
counfel is addreiTed to the underflanding ; 
and whatever is propofed under the charac- 
ter of wifdom mud neceflarily be fubmit- 
ted to our own confideration, that we may 
receive it fo far as there appeareth fufficient 
caufe to our own reafon and judgment. 
Now, certainly this is a dodrine which will 
abide the flrideft and moft impartial trial, 
that true religion, and every branch of it, 
is wifdom, and the knowledge of the Holy is 
tmderjlajiding. Perhaps the befl and moft 
fatisfying way for illuftrating this, would be 
to enter into particulars, to conlider the 
duties of piety, of juflice, of meeknefs, of 
charity, and the reft ; and to fhew that 
every one of them is indeed wifdom, moll 
becoming men, exadly fuited to the ftate 
and relations of the human nature, and con- 
ducive to the higheft and moft important 
ends which fuch a Being ought to purfue ; 
but that would be too large for the prefent 
defign. If we take the whole fyftem toge- 
ther, it will not be ditficult to judge whe- 
ther it deferveth to be called wifdom, and 

C 2 whether 



20 Religion and Virtue^ 

Serm. whether they are not the wifefl men, who 
I. form the difpolitions of their minds and 
" """"^^ their pradiice by its rules. 

One notion of wifdom is, that it confift.- 
eth in a right judgment of things, of their 
nature, fo far as that falls within our know- 
ledge, of their properties, relations, differ- 
ences, and of their ends and ufes. The 
difference between the wifeft man, and the 
weakeft, in underffanding, doth not lie in 
the materials of their knowledge, if I may 
fpeak fo ; they have the fame ideas, the 
fame reprefentations of objedls in their 
mind conveyed by their fenfes : But whe- 
ther it be for want of equal capacity, op- 
portunity, or diligence, the one hath not fo 
thoroughly examined, and doth not fo well 
difcern their agreement or difigreement, 
their relations, diftindions, and ufes, as the 
other. A defeat here mull have a very un- 
happy influence on our condud:, which 
muft be formed according to our fentiments 
and opinions of things. A man who is not 
able to diftinguifh, cannot know how to 
determine his choice, what to do, or for- 
bear ; what to chufe, or refufe j like a blind 
man placed among a great variety of things, 
fome good and fome bad, who hath nothing 
• to 



corjidcred under the Notion of Wifdom. 2 r 

to clired his choice, becaule he cannnot dif- Sf. rm. 
cern,the difference, and may be as ready to ^' 
catch at a pebble as a jewel, nay, as ready 
to lay hold on what is deflrudive, as on 
what may be good and profitable to him ; 
fo in the proper Iphere of the rational powers, 
as there is an elFcntial difference between 
objed:s, it is ablolutely ncceffary we fliould 
dilcern it, in order to our being rightly de- 
termined. If this be a juft notion of wif- 
dom, let us apply it to the fubjed before us, 
and any one may eafily judge, whether uni- 
verfal religion, the fear of God, julf ice, pa- 
tience, temperance, goodnefs, be not more 
agreeable to the true nature and efTential 
differences of things, and fl;ieweth an exadter 
judgment concerning them than the con- 
trary. Let any man who hath even the 
flendereft acquaintance with the fyftem of 
thefe virtues, determine, whether he who 
heartily embraceth and adtcth according to 
it, appeareth to have a truer difccrnment, 
than he who maketh the oppofite choice. 
I do not doubt but every one, who reflc(^l- 
eth ferioufly, will be convinced, that to fear 
God, to be juft, and charitable to men, and 
to moderate our own appetites and pafTions, 
is to judge rightly, to treat things as they 
C I are. 



22 Religion and Virtue ^ 

Serm. are, according to truth, and to their real 
!• ^ nature and importance ; in other words, 
that it is wifdom 3 and that to abandon our 
felves to impiety, unrighteoufnefs, and fen- 
fual pleafures, is to confound things, to ncg- 
ledl their differences, to treat them quite 
otherwife than, at Icaft if we confidered, 
we {hould judge them to be ; or that it is 
folly.' 

Another notion of wifdom is, an ability 
to improve our reafon to the befl purpofes. 
All men boafl alike of this high prerogative 
of their nature, that they are rational ; but 
they have not all the fame dexterity in the 
ufe of reafon, nor an equal capacity to em- 
ploy it for the fame valijable ends. The 
conftitution of the human nature feems to 
be uniform ; we have the fame original de- 
terminations, the fame fenfes, or ways of 
perceiving things, and the fame propenfities 
or afFed;ions which conflitute the ends we 
purfue J but they are various and unequal in 
their excellency and importance, according 
to the different parts of our nature to which 
they relate, and the ufes which the wife 
author of our being dcfigned them for. 
There is, for example, in man, a defire to 
meat and drink, and other gratifications of 

the 



cofijidercd under the Notiofi of IViJdom. 23 

the external fenfes j there is alfo a defire oFSerm* 
moral excellence, an afFe(5tion to beings of *• 
the moft perfect charaders. Every one 
mufl fee there is a great difference in point 
of excellency and importance, between thefe 
affedions or defires, and the purfuits to 
which they determine us. It is the pro- 
vince of wifdom to judge concerning the 
worth and dignity of our ends, that we may 
purfue them v^ith fuitable zeal and applica- 
tion, as well as to find out the befl and pro- 
pereft means for obtaining them. Now, 
among all the ends which we are determined 
to purfue by any inflind:, appetite, or incli- 
nation of nature, it will be no difficulty to 
judge which are the worthieft, the moft ex- 
cellent in themfelves, and the moft becom- 
ing fuch creatures as we are to purfue, and 
confequently, which ends true wifdom di- 
redieth us to chufe, as the chief and con- 
ftantly to be aimed at, in preference to 
all others ; whether that moral perfection, 
which is the glory of intelligent beings, or 
the enjoyments of the animal life, which 
are common to us with the brutal kinds. 

One neccifary determination in our na- 
ture is, to feek our own happinefs j and it 
will be acknowledged true wifdom which 
C 4 diredleth 



24 Religion and Virtue , 

SERM.direcSeth us to the bed and moil: effedual 
I- way for fecuring that end. Now, not to 
enter on any large expHcation of this point, 
the queftion concerning the wifdom of reli- 
gion may be brought to a fhort ilfue. Let 
any man feriouily confider, and upon ma- 
ture refled;ion anfwer to himfelf, whether 
he really thinks it would be better for him, 
upon the whole, to be religious or wicked ; 
whether he would find himfelf eafier, and 
be better fatisfied in his own mind, and 
have better hope concerning his ftate here- 
after ; by fearing God, or not fearing him ; 
by a courfe of regular ftri(5l virtue, or li- 
centious immorality ? If there be any diffi- 
culty at all in anfwering the queftion, it 
arifeth from the vehemence of corrupt in- 
clinations, and the prefent unealinefs which 
accompanieth them; whereby men are ur- 
ged to comply, without confidering the 
certain, though at prefent diftant, confe- 
quences of fuch compliance. But, not to 
infift on any other arguments, this is a dif- 
ficulty unworthy of wifdom, becaufe it ari- 
feth from the weak part of our conftitu- 
tion, originally intended to be guided and 
direded by reafon, which in man ought flill 
to hold the reins 3 and we turn into folly, 

■whenever 



conjidercd under the Notion ofJVifdcm. 25 

whenever we decline a fubjecftion to its em- S e r M. 
pire, or adt otherwife than it direcfteth. ^' 
Doth not wilUom require us to ad: with a 
regard to the future, as well as the prefent 
time ? Is it not true difcrction to have a 
greater regard to a more important than 
to a lefs important intereft, and to have a 
greater regard to an eternal ftate, than to 
that which is momentary and perilling ? 
And if this be taken into the account, the 
vvifdom of religion will fully appear. 

It is certain that multitudes of mankind 
conduct themfelves quite otherwife ; they 
take up with the pleafures of the external 
fenfes, or the gratification of low defiresj 
and they imagine themfelves wife in doing 
fo, devifing fubtile methods for obtaining 
their ends. But this fatal miftake arlfeth 
from a partial confideration of the human 
nature, and a narrow view of our exigence. 
If we deliberately conlider the whole of our 
frame, and with difcretion extend our pro- 
fpeds to a future ftate, of which we have 
the flrongefl aflurances, we {hall be con- 
vinced that fenfible objcd:s cannot afford us 
the truefl felicity j and that it becometh 
fuch creatures as we are, to provide for a 
longer duration than the prefent life; that 

the 



26 Religion and Virtue y 

Serm. the dominion of confcience over the lower 
I. appetites and paffions is abfolutely neceffary 
to preferve the harmony of nature ; and 
that the mofl: fohd and permanent peace 
and joy, fpring from the love and obfer- 
vance of God's laws. And as wifdom is 
profitable to diredt men to the profecution 
of the moft worthy ends, another part of 
its province is chufing the beft means for 
attaining them ; and this alio appeareth in 
religion. Its directions principally turn up- 
on the pradiice of piety and virtue ; and 
what better and more natural way can there 
be for arriving at perfe(5tion in any thing, 
than pra<5tiiing that wherein we would be 
perfed ? If we would hope to be finally 
blefied in beholding God's face in righte- 
oufnefs, what better preparation can there 
be for it, than, when we behold the glory 
of the Lord, difplayed in his word, to be 
changed into his image, to become parta- 
kers of a divine nature, and, cleanfing our- 
felves from the filthinefs of the flefh and 
fpirit, to perfect holinefs in his fear ; thus to 
grow up gradually, by a continual progrefs 
in every religious virtue, to a meetnefs for 
the inheritance of the faints in light. True 
it is, that through the prejudices which are 

natural 



confider-ed under the "Notion of Wifdom. 2/ 
natural to us, and felfifli afFedtions, which S e r M. 
arc very ftrong, the difcipllne of religion is I- 
irkfome to men, efpecially at their firft en- 
trance into it ; fo that true virtue, as prac- 
tifed in oppofition to the bent and tendency 
of depraved appetites and pafTions, is juflly 
reprefented under the notion of felf-denial 
and mortification. This at firfb view may, 
to unattentivc minds, have an unnatural ap- 
pearance, and not feem worthy the name 
of wifdom ; for that which is to be denied, 
thwarted, and controuled, being a part of 
our nature, the difcipline which prefcribeth 
the denying it, muft neceflarily prefcribe 
pain, (indeed the rule of our religion ac- 
knowledgeth this, reprefenting that part of 
the exercife it enjoineth, under the notion 
of pulling out the right eye, and cutting off 
the right hand) and therefore it may feem 
to be a difcipline not wifely calculated for 
promoting the felicity of the human nature, 
which is confeffedly an end of wifdom. 
Yet upon a more clofe and ferious conlide- 
ration, it will appear, that felf-denial and 
mortification is a neceflary part of wifdom, 
as a remedy accommodated to the infirmi- 
ties of our prefent ftate, and the diforders 
<)f our nature. 



28 Re It gi en and Virtue^ 

Serm. We are divided againfl ourfelves, and find 

J. oppofite tendencies in our hearts, carnal in- 
clinations and pafTions leading one way, and 
reafon and confcience propofing' another di- 
redly contrary. They muft be ftrangers to 
felf-refled:ion, who do not find it fo in fadt 
and experience -, and if it be fo, it is plain 
that fomething, which muft be called our- 
felves, and a part of our nature, muft be 
denied j either appetite and paffion on the 
one hand, or reafon and confcience on the 
other. But it is certain, and every confide- 
ratc perfon will be convinced of it, that the 
latter is the fuperior, the more excellent, 
and, of right, the governing part j and that 
conforming ourfelves to its direction will 
yield the greater, more exalted, and abiding 
happinefs. Now, is -it not wife and reafo- 
nable to deny an inferior, and worfe felf, 
for the fake of a better and fuperior ? And 
thus the law of mortifying the deeds of the 
body, of crucifying the flefli, with the affec- 
tions and lufts, is wifely injoined for the 
faving of the fpirit, for refcuing it from 
corruption, and railing it to a ftate of wif- 
dom, activity, and true pleafure. 

Since, then, this dodrine of Solojnon fets 
religious virtue in fuch an inviting light; 
and fince, as he elfewhere fpeaketh, there is 

a 



cojifidered under the Notio?i of JVifdom. 29 

a price put in our hands to attain it, let us Serm. 
not be of the fools who have no heart to I- 
purchafe it. This is the unhappy condition ' "' 
of many to whom divine iv'ijdvm crietb, and 
under ft anding lifteth up her ^jcice. The im- 
petuous clamor of their lulls and paflions 
prevaileth againft the calm voice of reafon ; 
their depraved afFedions, indulged, grow up 
to fuch confirmed vicious habits, as harden 
their hearts to an utter infenfibility, and a 
total negled of wifdom's moft earnefl feli- 
citations. Solomon, in this chapter, repre- 
fenteth the fatal confequenccs of this in a 
very clear and affeding manner i and with 
his words I {hall conclude : IVifdom iittereth 
her '•coke in the Jlreets, and cricth in the 
chief places of ccnccurfe, in the opening cf the 
gates, and in the city ; that is, in the plainefl 
and mofl intelligible manner: But then he 
adds, in the name of wifdom, Bccaufe I 
called, and ye refufed ; have fet at naught 
my coimfcls, and would none of my reprooji-r- 
they hated knowledge, and did not chufe the 
fear of the Lord; therefore, f:all they eat 
the fruit of their own way, and be filled 
with their own devices. 



S E R- 



[ 30 ] 

SERMON IL 

The ExcELLE NCY of W I S D O M. 



PROVERBS VIII. 6, 7. 

Hear^ for I will Jpeak of excelkiit things, 
and the opening of my lips fiall be right 
things 3 for my mouth Jhall fpeak truth, 

Serm. T TAVING endeavoured to explain the 
XJL nature, characters, ends, and ufes, of 
that wifdom which Solomon recommendeth 
in this book, fhewing that it comprehend- 
eth the whole fyftem of religious virtue, 
the fear of God, all the pious devout affec- 
tions and regards which are due to the fu- 
preme Being j juftice and good- will to men; 
fobriety, or a due government of our infe- 
rior appetites and paffions, together with the 
proper effe(5ls of thefe qualities and difpofi- 
tions of mind in our converfations, doing 
good, and efchewing evil j and having en- 
deavoured to juftify the notion he intendeth 
to give us, that it may have a proper influ- 
ence on our temper and pradlice, that this 
is true wifdom ; I fhall, next, apply myfelf 

to 



The Excellency of Wijdom. 3 i 

to the confideration of feme arguments Serm. 
whereby he inforceth it, and urgeth us to II. 
ftudy, embrace, and conform our hves to 
its direiftion. One argument is contained in 
the text, which is a part of wifdom's ele- 
gant fpeech, addrelTed to the fons of men, 
in the moft open and folemn manner. She 
is reprefented, in the beginning of this chap- 
ter, as making a pubHc appearance in a rude, 
ignorant, and corrupt world, loudly pro- 
claiming her doctrines and counfels, and 
calling upon all men, without exception, 
even of the moft fimple and ftupid, to 
hearken to them. And what confideration 
could be more powerful to engage their at- 
tention than this, that flie fpeaketh of ex^ 
cellent things -, the opening of her lips is of 
right things^ and her mouth fpeaketh tj^uth. 
That this is the juft character of the in- 
ftrudtions and precepts of religious virtue, I 
will endeavour to fhew you in this difcourfe ; 
and then I fhall make fome pradical reflec- 
tions. You cannot but obferve, that other 
writers of fcripture, as well as SolotJion, at- 
tribute high excellency to religion 5 particu- 
larly we meet with many declarations of 
that fort in the books of "Job and the Fjahns. 
It is compared with things which are among 
men of the greateft price, and preferred to 

them; 



32 The Excellency of Wifdom. 

Serm. them; which method of comparifon is a 
II' very natural one in enquiring into and de- 
fcribing worth. It muft indeed be fuppofed 
that we are, in fome meafure, acquainted 
wit;h the things which wifdom Jpeakethj 
otherwife it would be a vain attempt to 
fhew their excellence. But, befides that, I 
have already mentioned fome of them, in 
the brief account I gave of the defign and 
main fubjed: of this book ; I hope that is a 
fuppofition not unfit to be made in fuch an 
affembly : For though it muft be acknow- 
ledged, that the compleat fcheme of reli- 
gion and morality, and every thing belong- 
ing to it which may be comprehended in 
the doctrine of wifdom, is not without dif- 
ficulties ; fome of the fmaller lines in the 
divine draught may not be clearly difcerned, 
perhaps not all of them, by any even of 
thofe who have fearched into it with the 
greatefi: care ; yet the principal firokes are 
fo clear, that he who runs may ready as the 
prophet fpeaketh ; fcarcely any Chriftian can 
be ignorant of them, at leafl fo far ignorant, 
as not to be able to judge of their excel- 
lence. 

My method for illuftrating Solomon's ar- 
gument in the text, fhall be this : 

2 ^ Fi?'JI, 



The Excellency of JVlJdom, 32 

Tirfi^ I will confider the excellence oFSerm. 
the dodrines and injundtions of wif- II. 
dom, abtolutely and in themfelves, and 
under that head explain their reditude 
and truth. 

Secondly^ I (hall, after the example of 
this, and other facred writers, compare 
them with other things which are mofl 
valued by men, and fliew their fupe- 
rior worth. 

Firji, let us confider the excellence of 
the dodtrines and injundtions of wifdom, ab- 
folutely and in themfelves. And here it 
would feem reafonable, firft of all, that we 
fhould fix an idea of excellence, making it 
the ftandard whereby to try every thing 
which pretendeth to that charadler : But, 
as far as I can fee, the facred writers fatisfy 
themfelves, with refpedl to this matter, by 
appealing to the common fenfe of mankind, 
and fuppofe a neceffary approbation and 
efteem which muft be the llandard, at leaft 
the charadteriftic, of excellency to us. Their 
manner of fpeaking feems to be altogether 
unintelligible, unlefs there be fome common 
and plain rule wherein all men are agreed, 
and which muft have fo deep a foundation 

Vol. III. D ia 



34 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

S E R M. in nature, as the neceflary invariable deter- 
JI- mination of our minds. If you fuppofe the 
charader of excellent and right to be the 
refult of arbitrary human conftitutions, it 
would never be uniform, but muft have as 
much variety as the meafures of the under- 
ftandings, fancies, cufloms, affedions, pre- 
judices, or whatever elfe might influence 
men in making fuch conftitutions. But we 
will find, by looking into our own minds, 
that we do not learn our notions of excellent 
and right that way j they are before the 
confideration of all laws, appointments, or- 
ders, and inftrudlions whatfocverj for we 
bring all thefe to the teft in our own minds, 
and try them by a fenfe which we have 
prior to any of them. This is not acquired 
(though it may be improved) by ftudy and 
learning, for then very few would be qua- 
lified to judge J but in the text wifdom ap- 
pealeth to the fimple and to fools, fubmit- 
ting her inftrudlions to their examination. 
Nay, this fenfe cannot depend on any pofi- 
tive declaration even of God's will, nor is 
the meaning, properly, of excellent and 
right things, fuch things as he hath com- 
manded. When St. Faul giveth thefe epi- 
thets to religious virtue, much of the fame 
fignification with thofe in the text, whatfo- 

ever 



The Excellency of Wifdom, 3^ 

e*uer things are triie^ and pia-e^ and jujl, S e r M. 
and hone/l^ and lovely^ I cannot think he H. 
means that thefe things are fo becaufe pre- 
fcribcd as duty in the word of God, confi- 
dered as a divine law j for then he would 
have exprelTed himfelf more plainly and in- 
telligibly thus ; whatfoever things are com- 
manded, think on thefe things ; and though 
the very fame things are enjoined by the 
fupreme authority of God, and inforced by 
the gofpel motives, by which they derive a 
new obligation upon the mind of man ; yet 
honefty and turpitude, lovelinefs and de- 
formity, are characters of a(flions which can 
have no reference to legiflative authority, but 
purely to that impreflion of moral excellence 
which is made deep in the human heart. 
Befides, the character of excellent is in a 
peculiar, and indeed the higheft fenfe, ap- 
plied to God's laws and to himfelf, which 
fhews that it is not to be underftood to be 
fixed by a pofitlve declaration of his will ; 
for if it were, when it is faid that his laws 
are excellent, and himfelf an excellent Be- 
ing, the meaning would be, that his laws 
are, and himfelf is, jufl what he pleafes ; 
which is in effed to fay, that his moral 
I perfections are not effential to him. It re- 
I mains then, that the original idea of excel- 
I D 2 lence 



36 ^he Excellency of JVifdom. 

S E RM. lence is, in this fenfe, efTential to our nature j 
II, that it is one of thofe perceptions to which 
we are neceflarily determined when the ob- 
Jed: fitted to excite it is prefented to us. By 
our conflitution we are tied down to certain 
fenfations or ways of perceiving, which 
feem to be uniform, ahke in all men, and 
fubje(3: to no alterations, in which we mufl 
finally acquiefce as the fole judges within 
their proper fphere. Job fays, chap. xii. 1 1. 
Doth not the ear try wordsy and the month 
tafte his jneats. The perception of taftes is 
natural, the fame originally in every man, 
no one learneth it from another, as^ we do 
the fignification of words, arts, and habits 
of divers kinds ; and every man's tafte is the 
only judge for himfelf of its proper objed:, 
no one can change it, or conform his man- 
ner of perception to the will of another ; 
fo that if a proclamation was made, offering 
meats and drinks to all who fhould be will- 
ing to receive them, and this argument 
ufed, not that they are wholfome or medi- 
cinal, tending to reflore and preferve health, 
for that might be difHcult to judge of, and 
requireth fkill and experience, but that they 
are fweet or palatable 5 to whom is the ap- 
peal underflood to be made,, but to every 
one for himfelf? for the mouth tafleth 

meats. 



^e Excellency ef JVifdom. ny 

meats. In like manner, fays Job, the ear ^^r m. 
trieth words -, probably he means, the un- II. 
derftanding trieth dodirines, and the mind 
trieth the goodnefs of things, and muft pro- 
nounce the beft judgment on every one that 
is propofed to it. There is a tafte in the 
mind, or a power of difcerning of excel- 
lency, of right and truth, as well as in the 
mouth a tafte of meats ; and it is as natural 
and much more invariable. When certain 
charaders, anions, and principles, are pro- 
pofed to us, we have as neceffarily a per- 
ception of excellent and vile, right and 
wrong, of true and falfe, as we have of 
fweet, and bitter, and four, from the ob- 
jects of the external fenfe. And as this lat- 
ter is capable of being improved by experi- 
ence, or vitiated by a diftemper, which 
doth not hinder its being natural ; fo in the 
other cafe, there is not in all men an equal 
degree or extent of knowledge in the things 
of wifdom, which arifeth from an inequa- 
lity in their capacities, means of informa- 
tion, and attention ; but flill there is in all 
men a fenfe of the difference between moral 
good and evil, of the excellence of the one, 
and the turpitude of the other, as foon as it 
is underilood. I do not fay that this ne- 
D 3 ceflarily 



38 'The Excellency of Wifdom, 

S ERM. ceiTarily determines our praftice ; we find by 
11. experience that it is otherwife, and that 
men milled by their felfifh indinations, vi- 
cious cuftoms and habits, and flrong preju^ 
dices, chufe what they know to be evil, 
and refufe what they know to be good ; but 
every one who, according to Solomon's ex- 
hortation, will hear and ferioufly conlider, 
is quaUfied to difcern that the things which 
wifdom fpeaketh, are indeed excellent. 

\\ the qneilion be, What are thofe things, 
in the inftrudlions of wifdom, or of religion 
and virtue, which appear to be fo excellent ? 
I aniwer, every thing. Let any man feri- 
oufly confider the great branches of religion 
as they are propofed to us in the fcripture, 
let them think on them feverally, and then 
in Gonjundion, as making up one fyftem, 
and let him calmly pronounce judgment, 
whether they, or their oppofites, are the 
more excellent and amiable ? whether the 
fear and iove of God, with a confl:ant tenor 
of practice agreeable to thefe great princi- 
ples, be better than irreligion and profane- 
nefs ? whether charity, fidelity, gratitude, 
temperance, chaftity, patience, be better 
than malice, fraud, violence, perfidioufnefs, 
drunkennefs, Igwdnefs, and a continued 

courfe 



The Excellency of Wifdom, 39 

courfe of outrageous infolence againfl GodSERM. 
and man ? and then let him judge whether II. 
it be not true, which the prophet hath faid, 
Micah vi. 8. God hath Jhewed thee^ O ma?!, 
what is good. 

But I think the wife man hath very well 
explained his own meaning in the following 
words ot the text, and leads us into a juft 
way of conceiving the excellence of religious 
virtue j for, faith wifdom, the opening of 
my lips fhall be of right things^ and my mouth 
fhall fpeak truth. Right and true are cha- 
raders which we cannot but acknowledge 
to be excellent wherever we difcern them ; 
fet them againfl their oppolites, in any cafe 
wherein you are competent judges, and 
fully able to diflingui(h, that you may fee 
to which of them your own minds mull 
neceffarily give the preference. An adion 
or a charader, in which redlitude and iate- 
grity eminently fliine forth, or a rule which 
propofeth them to us, fuch as that of our 
Saviour, Matt. vii. 12. Whatever ye would 
that men fiould do to you^ do ye even fo to 
them. This will command our veneration, 
and truth will always appear lovely, even 
when our private interefts and affedlions 
/land in greatefl oppofition to it. When 
D 4 any^ 



40 ^he Excellency of Wifdom. 

SERM.any bias inclineth us to the fide of iniquity 

II. or of falfhood, yet ftill we are confcious of 
a fuperior excellence and amiablenefs in 
righteoufnefs and truth, Thefe are the cha- 
raders of God's laws, which engage the 
cfteem and affedion of his fervants, I mean 
his moral laws, which are clearly declared 
in his word, and were known by the light 
of nature -, for the apoftle fays, the ivork of 
the law is written in the hearts of men-, the 
Pfalmifl likewife, Ffal, xix. 8. 'fhe Jiatutes 
of the Lord are right -, and ver. 9. His judg- 
ments are altogether righteous. And Pjal. 
cxix. 138. T^hy teftimonies are rights good^ 
and very faithful. It is true, that righte- 
oufnefs is often taken in a limited fenfe for 
one part of our duty to men, rendering to 
all their due ; but fometimes it comprehend- 
eth univerfal religion and virtue, to which 
the character of right is afcribed, not merely 
with regard to the authority of God enjoin- 
ing it, but becaufe of an infeparable reditude 
in the things themfelves, prior to all laws. 
Not only flrid juftice, but other parts of 
our duty, come under the denomination of 
righteoufnefs, becaufe of their congruity to 
that fenfe of right and wrong eflential to the 
rational nature j for example, the homage 

we 



^he Excellency of Wifdom, 41 

we owe to Almighty God, as well as the S e r m. 
good offices which ought to be performed II. 
to our fellow-creatures ; for reverence, love, 
gratitude, and obedience, to the beft of be- 
ings, our conflant benefadlor, and the re- 
warder of them that diligently feek him, 
will appear as agreeable to the voice of rea- 
fon, as that we fliould preferve the rights 
of, and be beneficent to, them who are made 
of one blood with us, with whom we are 
joined in the communion of the fame na- 
ture, linked together by common wants, 
and a mutual capacity of fervice ; and who 
have the fame claim of good offices from 
us, as we have from them. 

Again -, there is eternal truth in all God's 
teftimonies j they are founded on felf-evi- 
dent maxims. If we reduce what hath been 
already faid concerning the excellence and 
equity of the main efTential parts of our 
duty, into the form of propofitions, fuch 
as, that the fear and love of God, juflice, 
beneficence, gratitude, and fobriety, are 
better than the contrary, no man is fo flu- 
pid and perverfe, as not to aflent to them in 
his own mind, however gainfaying his in- 
clinations and paffions may be. We need 
go no farther than plainly to propofe them, 
3 and. 



42 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

S E R M. and, indeed, we can go no farther, they 
J^I« are fo evident 5 I queftion whether any ar- 
gument that can be ufed is clearer than the 
propolitions themfelves. 

There is another notion of excellence, 
confidered as the meafure of perfedlion 
which belongs to any particular kind of be- 
ing, or whereby it is fitted for its proper 
end. Thus, thofe things are efleemed ex- 
cellent which in the beft manner, and with 
the greateft exadnefs ferve the purpofes they 
were deiigned for, or which come up to 
the flandard of their particular kind, and 
ilill, upon a comparifon, thofe are faid to 
excel, which come neareft to it. Now, I 
have fhewn, in a former difcourfe, that reli- 
gious virtue juftly claims the pre-eminence 
in the quality of wifdoin as far excelling 
whatever may pretend to that Character, 
and as ferving nobler and more important 
purpofes than any other kind of vv^ifdom 
doth. But the highefl fenfe of excellence 
abftradeth from any particalar ufe, or any 
particular flandard, that which abfolutely 
on it's own account, and without reference 
to any end is to be valued -, it is its own 
end, and our efteem ultimately terminates 
upon it 5 and this is peculiar to moral ex- 
cellence, which irrefiftibly commands our 

appro- 



a 



The "Excellency of Wifdom. 43 

pprobation without regard to any ufe or any S e r m. 
benefit which can be fuppofed to accrue II. 
from it. In all the variety of circumftances 
wherein men can poflibly be placed, and in 
all the views we can take of it, righteouf- 
nefs will flill appear excellent to a reafonable 
nature and attradt its efteem. 

I come in the fecond place, after the ex- 
ample of Solomon and other facred writers, 
to compare the Dodlrines and precepts of 
wifdom or religious virtue with other things 
which are mofl valued by Men, and to (hew 
their fuperior worth. That thefe writers do 
illuftrate the excellence of wifdom in this 
manner is plain 5 at the nth verfe of this 
chapter it is faid, Wifdom is better than ru- 
bies, and all the things that may be defired 
are not to be compared to it, and, ver. 1 9. 
My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine 
gold, and my revenue than choice fiher. And 
Chap. iii. I4, 15. The merchandize of it is 
better than the merchandize of fiher, and 
the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more 
precious than rubies, and all the things thou 
canfi defire are not to be compared to her. 
The Pfalmift often declares his efteem of 
God's laws, as far furpafTing thoufands of 
gold and fiher, and, Job xxviii. from ver, 
15. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither fJoall 

fther 



44 ^^^ Excellency of JVifdom, 

SERM.T^/'y^^ he weighed for the price thereof \ it 
II. cannot be 'valued with the gold of Ophir, 
with the precious onyx or the faphir. The 
gold and chryftal cannot equal it, and the ex- 
change of it jJ: all itot be for jewels of fine gold, 
JSIo mention Jhall be made of coral^ or of 
pearl, for the price of wifdom is above rubies : 
the topaz of Ethiopia fiall not equal it, nei- 
Jhall it be valued with pure gold. To ilate 
the comparifon rightly, it would be proper 
to inquire into the grounds upon which thefe 
things are valued with which wifdom is 
compared, and preferred to them; and it 
feems to be this, that in the prefent flate of 
human nature commerce is necelTary, con- 
fifting in an exchange of the produce of the 
earth in different parts of it, and the fruits 
of mens induilry. Since the comfort and con- 
veniency of life cannot be fufficiently provid- 
ed for by the Ungle care and labour of one ; 
and we are all fenlible of this, for a great many 
hands are employed about even that with 
which we are fed and cloathed ; and lince no one 
part of the earth is fo compleatly furnifhed 
with all which may be ufeful, but it may be 
the better for what others can fpare ; which 
reafon determines diftant nations to traffick j 
on this account, I fay, commerce is necet- 
fary ; and to make it more eafy and advanta- 



geous. 



I'he Excellency of Wifdom, 45 

geous, there is, by general confent, a coiti-Serm. 
mon flandard or meafure eftablifhed, by H. 
which all things are valued which are ex- 
changed i and fo Solomon fays, Ecclef. x. 19. 
Money anfwereth all things. It is this which 
maketh money itfelf fo much valued, be- 
caufe a man finds that ordinarily it is capa- 
ble of procuring him the greater abundance 
of thofe things which tend to render his 
condition eafy and to pleafe his appetites^ 
What maketh gold more precious than the 
pebble or iron ? It is becaufe it can be fold 
for more, and by its price command a great- 
ier variety of things which belong to the 
conveniency and pleafure of life. And, 
becaufe I would not diminifh any thing 
from its value, and I am fure I need not, 
in order to prove the point before us, that is, 
to {hew the fuperior excellence of Wifdom, 
let it be added, that it may be conlidered as 
affording men the means and opportunity 
of doing and receiving good of a higher 
kind, that is, of virtue itfelf. 

But, now, to (hew the truth of what the 
authors mentioned fo conflantly and folemn- 
ly afBrm, that wifdom is better than rubies, 
pearls, or whatever elfe can be defired in 
this worlds iirft, let it be obferved, that 

none 



^6 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

Serm. none of them come up to the charader of 
II. excellence before infilled on, and which 
muft be attributed to wifdom. They all have 
only a limited and relative v^^orth 5 no man 
can deliberately value them highly otherwife 
than with reference to their ufe, and there- 
fore they cannot in reafon be as much 
efteemed as thofe things which muft be 
acknowledged excellent on their own ac- 
count, and without refpe(ft to an higher end. 
Though for want of reflection and not look- 
ing narrowly into things, we may haftily 
take up the imagination of fome excellence 
in fu£h objects, yet upon a more thorough 
examination, we fhall find that their price 
muft be eflimated according to their ufcr 
fulnefs, and the advantages which may be 
procured by them ; but the excellence of 
religious Wifdom is in itfelf abfolute, and 
the more we inquire into it, and view it on all 
fides, its dignity and beauty will be fi:ill 
more confpicuous. If we put the cafe of 
diftrefs v/hich is incident to all men, of 
a man, for inflance, in lingering fickhefs, in 
the utmofl agonies of pain, or in the views 
of death ; he lofeth all relilh for his riches, 
for they can be of no ufe to him ; the luflrc 
of his gold and pearls fadeth -, but the ex- 
cellence of virtue fufFereth no diminution; 

nay. 



'The Excellency of Wifdom, 47 

nay, in that difmal cafe, appeareth more de- S e r m. 
firable than ever. II. 

Secondly^ The mofl precious treafures of' 
this world are not valued, not even altoge- 
ther by worldly men, but with fome regard 
to virtue ; but religious wifdom is neceflarily 
efleemed excellent independently on them, 
and without any manner of regard to them, 
which is a conlideration that fufficiently 
fheweth to which upon a comparifon, even 
in the judgment of the moft partial, the 
preference is due. Perhaps this may not at 
firft be alTented to, that worldly treafures are 
valued even by worldly men with fome re- 
gard to virtue ; but, pray, confider, if the 
moft fordid fpirits would be contented to 
enjoy the folitary pleafure of their riches ; 
nay, if they can relifti any excellence in 
them, or find any fatisfad:ion, without fo- 
ciety and a communication with fome in- 
telligent beings like themfelves. I cannot 
believe there is fuch an one among man- 
kind, and that it muft be fomething beneath 
the human nature which can fink into fuch 
a low and abjed: difpofition. Now, the fo- 
cial are really virtuous affections, which ftill 
fubfift, though in a weak and low degree, 
even in the covetous man ; he is indeed an 
Idolater, as the fcripture juftly calleth him, 
3 but 



48 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

Serm. but he hath not wholly facrificed all his (o- 
II. cial difpolitions to his idol -, he hath an eye 
to the good of fome or other befides him- 
felf, which his heart findeth to be the great- 
eft pleafure and advantage his riches afford, 
though it may be they lie within a very fmall 
circle, fuch as his own family, his neareft 
relations and friends, whofe wants at prefent 
he fupplieth very fparingly as he doth his 
own ; yet ftill a regard to their future, and, 
as he imagines, lafting benefit, is the chief 
fupport of his fatisfadion ; and that, in fine, 
he can have no enjoyment of his jewels 
and his gold without fome degree of bene- 
volence. Confider farther, how we value 
other mens pofiTeflion of thefe precious 
things, and here perhaps, we will be more 
impartial 3 are the pofifeflbrs at all in our 
efteem if we fuppofe them void of inclina- 
tions to ufe their riches for the good of 
mankind ? Are thefe things at all valued 
when in the pofiefiion of our neighbour, 
otherwife than as the means andinftrumentsof 
virtue, confequently inferior and fubordinate 
to virtue itfelf, from which they derive all 
their worth ? So that in this way of ftating 
the comparifon, Wifdom muft be acknow- 
ledged tg have the fuperior excellence. 

And, 



T^he Excellency of JVifdom. 49 

And, laftly, the things of this world, Serm. 
which rival wifdom in our efteem, Jiave !!• 
many inconveniences attending the acquifi- 
tion and the ufe of them, which do not 
affedl this invaluable poiTefllon ; they muft 
be peculiar and exclufive, enjoyed with dif- 
tind:ion, and as the engrofled property of 
the pofleiTor, and they perifli in our ufing 
them J but for wifdom, let a man labour 
ever fo much in acquiring it, he doth it not 
to the prejudice of any other, no one hath 
the lefs for his attainments, and it encreafeth 
rather than is diminiflied, by the ufe and 
enjoyment of it. 

The proper application to be made of 
this dodtrine, is, that which is frequently 
recommended in this book, that we fhould 
hear the counfels of wifdom, as we are ex- 
horted in the text j that we fhould make it 
our choice, and ufe our utmoll endeavours 
to attain it. Prov. iv. 7. JVifdom is the 
prificipal thiftg, therefo?'e get ivifdo??! j and 
with all thy getting^ get imderjlandi?ig^ Cer- 
tainly the juft inference from the excellency 
of any thing is, that we fhould ufe our ut- 
moft diligence to be pofTefTed of it, and ef- 
pecially fince the excellence appeareth fo 
plainly upon the leaft refledtion -, and every 
Vol. III. E one 



50 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

S E R M. one who will turn his thoughts that way,. 

!!• cannot but acknowledge it j which mufl 
exceedingly aggravate the folly of thofe 
who have no heart to it, when a price is 
put into their hands to get wifdom. God 
hath fo framed the human heart, that we 
muft necelTarily be felf- condemned in rebel- 
ling againft his laws, iince there is a witnefs 
in our own breaft of their excellency, their 
eternal righteoufnefs and truth. If any 
man, who is even under the greateft difad- 
vantages for the practice of his duty, would 
but ferioufiy think with himfelf how he will 
be able to anfwer for chuling what his own 
heart told him was worfe, and refufing what 
he could not but be fenfible was better, it 
would feem that even this might be fuffi- 
cient to reclaim him from his folly. It re- 
quireth no depth of penetration to difcerrs; 
the force of the argument ; as Mofes faith 
concerning the law, the main of which is,, 
that eternal law of righteoufnefs which So- 
lomon reprefenteth under the charader of 
wifdom ; and St. Faul applieth it to the 
gofpel, which flill excelleth in greater per- 
fpicuity, it is not in heaven, that thou fiouldjl 
fay. Who Jhall go up for us to heaven and 
bri'jtg it to us, that we may hear it and da 



ne Exeellency of Wifdom. ^ j 

it ? Neither is it beyofid the fea, that thou S e R M. 
Jhoiddcft jay. Who fiall go over the fea to II. 
bring it to us, that we may hear it and do ' 
it^ The word is nigh unto thee, even ia 
thy heart, and in thy mouth, Deut. xxx. 12. 

But, ftill, let us remember what I obfer- 
ved before, that the fenfe we have of the 
excellency of wifdom, and the ftrong light 
in which it appeareth to every one who re- 
fledteth upon it, layeth no conftraint upon 
US; if it did, there could be no fuch thing 
as virtue or religion at all, for that kind of 
necefTity is inconfiflent with its very nature ; 
the approbation is necelTary, the eledion or 
determination to adl, is not ; between thefe 
two there is a great difference, they are of- 
ten feparated, but always to the reproach of 
an intelligent creature. 

My brethren, it has pleafed God to fa- 
vour us with a gracious revelation by Jefus 
Chrift, vv^ith a new and clear publication of 
the dodrines and laws of religious wifdom. 
When men had darkened their underftand- 
ing by their own fault; when, as the apoftle 
faith, The world by wifdom hiew not God ; 
and elfewhere, the Gentiles walked in the 
'vanity of their mi fids, having the u?iderjiand- 
ing darkcfied, being alienated from the life of 

E 2 Qod, 



^2 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

Serm. God^ through the ignorance that is in them, 
II. hecauje of the hardnefs of their hearts ; who 
being pajl Jeeling, have given themf elves over 
unto lafcivioufnefs, to work all uncleannefs 
with greedinefs j when they were funk into 
a wretched impotence to good, the flefh pre- 
vailed again ft the fpirit, carnal and fenlible 
things made a ftrong impreflion on the 
mind ; and though they could not altogether 
efface the fenfe of true wifdom, yet very 
much obfcured it, and drew away the heart 
from an attention to its dictates j when cor- 
rupt cuftoms, the vain converfation received 
by tradition from their fathers, had prevailed 
to the enflaving of finners -, in this cafe it 
pleafed God, in great mercy, to find out a 
way for redeeming them by his fon fefus 
Chrify his fubftantial word and wifdom, 
who hath appeared to put away iin, and 
bring the fimple to underitanding. The 
gofpel fheweth us true wifdom in its native 
fimplicity and purity, and in that form 
which is beft accommodated to the circum- 
llances of our condition, enforcing its in- 
ftrudtions by new and powerful motives. 
The fum of what the grace of God, that 
bringeth falvation, teacheth us, is, that de- 
nyifjg imgodlinefs and worldly lufl^ we JJoould 
3 live 



The Excellency of Wijdom. ^i 

live fiber ly\ right eoii/ly, and godly ^ in this Serm. 
prefent world, which is jufl the abridgment II* 
of the wifdoin which Solomon recommend- 
eth. It fhineth with a peculiarly attradive 
grace in the life and precepts of the holy 
Jefus, and a peculiar obligation is added by 
a clear and poiitive law, with a very impor- 
tant fandlion, the promife of a glorious re- 
ward to the obedient, and the threatening 
of a terrible punifhment to the obftinately 
difobedient, in order to reclaim iinners, and 
to ftrengthen men againft the many tempta- 
tions they are liable to in this ftate of im- 
perfedion : And yet farther, in companion 
to our infirmities, God hath been pleafed to 
give his Holy Spirit, the fpirit of 'wifdo?n 
and revelation in the knowledge of him -y whofe 
office it is to illuminate our minds, and 
affift our feeble endeavours in feeking after 
wifdom 3 fo that in negleding it, we fhall 
be altogether inexcufable. 

Secondly J Let us entertain our minds with 
the excellency of wifdom as a very agreeable 
contemplation. We naturally incline to me- 
ditate on thofe things which are much in our 
efteem, and by that the prevailing difpofi- 
tions of the heart difcover themfelves as 
E 3 much 



54 ^he Excellency of Wifdom, 

S E R M. much as any way. The men of the world, 

II' who have their portion in this Hfe, as the 
Pfalmill: fpeaketh, fpenu their foHtary hours 
in thinking on their treafures, contriving 
how to encreafe or prefeive them j or they 
dehght themfelves with fcenes of pleafiire 
which their imagination formeth in the fru- 
ition of them J as our Lord's parable of the 
rich man in the 12th of bt. Luke's gofpel 
reprefenteth him, as firft, confidering with 
himfelf how he fhould difpofe of the vaft 
increafe of his ground ; and then, faying to 
his foui, Thou haft much goods laid up for 
many years, take thine eaje, eat, drink, and 
he merry. The good man, on the contrary, 
vieditateth on the law of God night and day \ 
and a very reafonable exercife this is, if we 
have a juft fenfe of its excellency 3 nay, 
fuch as may well fupport the mind under 
moft affliding circumftances ; for any dif- 
appointment, or that which for the prefent 
feemeth to be grievous, may be borne, when 
the foul can relieve itfelf by having reconrfe 
to fomething more noble and important flill 
within its reach. That man mufh have a 
ipirit of a very odd conftitution, who cannot 
encourage himfelf under a difagreeable inci- 
dent, when he feeth his moft important in- 

terefl 



*The Excellency of Wifdom. ^^ 

terefl in a flourifhing condition. It was aSERM. 
ftrange perverfenefs in Haman\ temper, that H- 
when he was in a profperous flate, applaud- 
ing himfelf in the glory of his riches, the 
multitude of his children, and his high pro. 
motion in the court of AhafucriiSj diilin- 
guiflied by the favour of that great monarch 
and his queen, which was the ruling defire 
of his ambitious mind j yet all this availed 
him nothing, becaufe a lingle man, fo little 
efteemed by him as Moi'decai the Jew, did 
not pay him the refpedl he required. We 
find by experience the power of innocent 
amufements in an afflicted flate of mind ; 
the pleafures of the fenfes and the imagina- 
tion, agreeable founds, the beauties of na- 
ture and of art, foothe the pafBons, and charm 
the troubled mind to reft. Now, is not the 
beauty of holinefs, the excellence of wif^ 
dom, a nobler fubjedl, and which muft have 
a greater force, if we turn our ferious at- 
tention to it, when we are opprelfed with 
cares ? 

In the laft place, the excellence of wif- 
dom fhould affed: the characters of men in 
our efteem, and regulate our regards to them. 
If it be fo excellent in itfelf, then, certainly, 

E ± thofe 



56 The Excellency of Wifdom. 

Serm. thofe who appear to have the largeft fliare 
II* of it, the wifeft men in Solomon' ^ fenfe, that 
is, the mofl virtuous, are the moft excellent, 
and the worthieft of our refped j accord* 
ingly he faith, chap. xii. 26. The righteous 
is more excellent than his neighbour. How 
is it that we govern our refped; to men ? Is 
it by riches, fplendid equipage, high titles, 
or any thing of a like nature ? David did 
not fo, for he telleth us, Pfal. xvi. 3. All his 
delight was in the excellent, the faints that 
were in the earth. And, Ffal. cxix. 6 1. I 
am a companion of all them that fear thee, 
and keep thy precepts. Nay, he giveth us 
this as the charadier of a good man, one 
who dwelleth in Zion, Pfal. xv. 4. In his 
eyes a 'vile perfon is contemned, but he honour- 
eth them that fear the Lord. An iinjujl man 
is an abomination to the juft, Prov. xxix. 27. 
Not that the juft hate the perfon of any 
man ; it is god-like to be kind to the un- 
thankful and the evil j but their temper and 
their converfation are not confidered by the 
virtuous with any complacency. Remem- 
ber, therefore, the diredlion of the apoftle 
James, ii. i. My brethren, haijc not the faith 
of our Lord fefus Chrift, with rcfpeSi of per- 
fons. It is, certainly, very unbecoming chri^ 

ftians 



The Excellejicy of Wifdom. ^j 

flians to diftinguifh men in their refpecfl by S e R m. 
external confiderations, and fuch things as II. 
have no relation at all to wifdom, but may 
be in fools as much as the wife 3 nay, in the 
vicious to a greater degree than the befl of 



men. 



S E R- 




SERMON III. 

The Ways of WISDOM, Ways 
of Pleasantness. 



PROVERBS III. ly. 

Her ways are ways of pleafantnefs^ and all 
her paths are peace, 

AS the main fubjedl of this book is 
wifdom or religious virtue, the au- 
thor ufeth many arguments to engage men 
to the fludy, the choice, and the pradlice of 
it ; one argument I very lately explained in 
a difcourfe on the 6th verfe of the 8th chap- 
ter, that the things of wifdom are excellent 
and right things : Another is contained in 
the text, which I fhall now conlider : Her 
ways are ways of pleafaiit fiefs, and all her 
paths are peace. This properly followeth 
the other, and between the two there is a 
connexion, for pleafure naturally followeth 
cfteem ; and whatever is apprehended to be 
excellent, yieldeth delight even in the con- 
templation, much more in the pofleffion. 

If 



Th& Ways of Wtjdom^ &c. ^9 

If we confider wifdom only as an objeft oFSerm. 
fpeculation, the mind hath fatisfadlion in HI. 
meditating upon it j for furely we will ac- 
knowledge there are mental as well as cor- 
poreal enjoyments, and| the mind is agree- 
ably entertained with other obje(5ts than thofe 
of the external fenfes. When the under- 
ftanding is regularly and diligently employed 
in a fearch after truth, the foul rejoiceth in 
finding it, and flill the joy rifeth in propor- 
tion to the excellence and importance of the 
objedl. Now, fliall the ftudious fearcher 
into nature, into the order, dependency, 
and operation of inferior caufes, to find out 
their effeds ; into the motions and fenfible 
qualities of bodies ; into the equality, pro- 
portion, and other relations of figures and 
numbers ; fliall fuch a one be highly pleafed 
in the difcovcry of truth, with evidence 
which is fatisfying to his mind ? And fhall 
the harmony of the foul itfelf, a due bal- 
lance of the affed:ions, a well-proportioned 
and becoming difpofition or adlion, be al- 
together infipid ; and righteoufnefs, moral 
excellence, and holinefs, not appear an ami- 
able form ? Nay, certainly, the knowledge 
itfelf, not to fpeak of the pra6tice of this 
fort of wifdom, is pleafant, as Solomon tel- 

Icth 



6o The Ways of JVifdo}}^ 

Serm. lethus, Prov. xxiv. 13. My fon, eat thou 
in. honey becaufe it is good, and the honey-comb^ 
which isfweet to thy tajle j foJJjall the know- 
ledge of wifdom be to thy foul. 

Farther j let us confider, what no pious 
mind will call in queflion, that the greateft 
delight arifeth from ferious devout medita- 
tion on God. The faints in fcripture ex- 
prefs their experience of this with raptures ; 
what they call beholding the beauty of the 
Lordy the glory of their God, and the light 
of his countenance, is reprefented as the no- 
blefl enjoyment ; it is an anticipation of the 
heavenly felicity j for wherein doth the joy 
of heaven itfelf confift ? One principal in- 
gredient in it is, feeing the face of God, cal- 
led therefore the beatific vifion. Now, what 
is the view his faithful fervants have of the 
fupreme being, in which they fo joyfully 
acquiefce ? Certainly, the principal objects 
of it are his moral perfections -, and though 
all his excellencies are to be confidered as 
infeparable, yet thefe are what give loveli- 
nefs to the whole. Though abfolute fupre- 
macy, independence, eternity, immenfity, 
and infinite power, might produce admira- 
tion and aflonidiment, yet it is only when 
confidered in conjunction withholinefs, good- 

nefs, 



Ways of Pkafantiiefs, 6 1 

nefs, and immutable truth, they caufe de-SERM. 
light. Thefe are the perfedions which his HI. 
people celebrate with triumphant joy. It 
followeth then, that moral excellence, ab- 
ilradly confidered, is a delightful objed of 
contemplation j and if it be fo, the more 
we partake of it ourfelves, that is, the more 
virtuous we are, and walk in wifdom's 
ways, the greater is our pleafure ; for then 
we have the more thorough acquaintance 
with it, as our author faith, chap. vii. 4. 
Wifdom is afifler^ and under/landing a kinf- 
iDoman^ with whom we have agreeable con- 
verfation as an intimate friend. This, I 
think, fheweth the truth of the aflertion 
in the text, that the ways of ivifdomy are 
ways of pie af ant nefs y as a confequence from 
the dodrine before explained, that they are 
t>:c client and right. 

But I fhall now confider this as a diflind 
argument recommending religious virtue ; 
and for illuflrating it, we muft have our 
recourfe to fad and experience, for that is 
the only way pleafure can be known. We 
find it neceffurily attendeth fome impreflions 
made on the mind by external objeds, or 
fome of its its own inward exercifes 3 and, 
on the contrary, pain and uneafinefs as ne- 
ceflarily arife on other occafions. The ori- 
ginal 



62 ^he Ways of Wifdom^ 

SERM.ginal idea could never be communicated to 
a creature who never felt pleafure, more 
than a man born blind could have any no- 
tion of colours. This would feem to bring 
the matter to a very fliort iffue, and cut off 
all occafion of reafoning upon itj for what, 
may it be thought, have men more to do 
than appeal to their own fenfe and by it's re- 
port decide the queftion ? Yet this, I am 
afraid, would be to the difadvantage of re- 
ligion 'y for how many are there of mankind 
who have not fuch experience of its plea- 
fantnefs as determineth them to prefer and 
to choofe it ? Plcafures of another kind more 
grofs and fenfible, while they do not ma- 
turely weigh the nature and confequences of 
them, preponderate in their affedtion. 

But we muft be all convinced that pleafure 
fpringeth from different occafions ; there is 
a variety of objeds which gratify the mind, 
and in various ad:s and exertions of its own 
power it findeth fatisfadlion ; and no man's 
condition in the world, or the capacity of 
his nature, can afford him an experimental 
knowledge of delight in the whole compafs 
of it. Here therefore, we ought to ufe 
our reafon in order to choofe thofe pleafures 
which, all things confidered, are the befl and 

fitted 



JVays of Plcafantnefs. 63 

fitteft for us. Though the original idea can- S e R M, 
not be learned by information or reafoning, HI. 
yet having it once fixed, we may be rational- 
ly induced by a calm attention to proper ar- 
guments to believe there is pleafure in fome 
things v^^hich we ourfelves have but litttle 
acquaintance with, and fo be perfuaded to 
make the experiment. One confideration 
of great weight in the prefent cafe is, the 
teftimony of thofe who have made a trial of 
wifdom's ways, and they all agree in afliiring 
us that they are ways of plcafantnefs and 
peace. If any thing be in a man's offer 
which promifeth a very agreeable entertain- 
ment, but hehimfelf hath never experienced 
it, how fliall he be determined in that cafe ? 
One reafonable way, if it be not over-bal- 
lanced by more powerful arguments on the 
other fide, which cannot be faid in the affair 
we are now confidering, is, to take the re- 
port of thofe who are the beft acquainted, 
at leafl, we may well regard it fo far as to 
make the trial ourfelves, and then judge up- 
on more certain knowledge. Good men 
exprefs themfelves very clearly on this head, 
and in very ftrong terms ; they declare with 
one voice that they have found exceeding 
great confolation in the way of God's com- 
mandments. 



64 The Ways of Wifdom\ 

Serm. mandments, not only more pure, but in- 
*^^' deed ftronger and more intenfe than all the 
enjoyments of this world could yield them. 
The Pfalmift faith, in the 119th pfalm, ver. 
14. / have rejoiced in the "way of thy tejii- 
monies more than in all riches^ and, Ffal. xix. 
10. More to be dejired than gold, yea than 
much fine gold^ fweeter alfo than honey and 
the honey-comb ; and Job efteemed them tnore 
than his necefjary food. How many decla- 
rations have we of the Apoflles to this pur- 
pofe, which are the more to be regarded 
becaufe of their circumftances, fliewing that 
not only the pleafantnefs of wifdom's ways 
or of pure religion is fuperior to the pleafures 
of this world, but fufficient to fupport the 
the mind againft its pains ? They were fet 
forth as examples of afflid:ion and perfecu- 
tion, SpeBacles to men and angels^ counted 
as the off-fcourifigs of all things^ as St. Faul 
expreffeth it, and the filth of the world, the 
very refufe of mankind ; yet under that load 
of contempt which was poured upon them, 
and in all their DiflrelTes, they rejoiced 
not only in the profpedt of a glorious 
reward at the refurredion of the juft, but 
in the faithful difcharge of their Duty even 
in the prefent time, in the teftimony of their 

con» 



WaysofTleafafifnefs, 6 c 

Confciences, that i?z funplicify and godly fin- Ser m. 
cerity they had their convcrfation in the world. HI. 
And, to conclude, in whatever degree any 
have experience in tiiis matter, having cho- 
fen the ways of wifdom or of God's com- 
mandments, they find themfelvcs obh'ged to 
acknowledge they are not grievous, but 
ways of pleafantnefs and peace. 

But, fecondly^ one might appeal to the 
experience of thofe who have but theloweft 
meafure of this wifdom 5 and indeed I can- 
not think there is any one of mankind fo 
perfectly wicked and abandoned as not to 
have a fenfe of fome kind of goodnefs, if 
not of piety and the ' virtues which confift' 
in the government of the felfifli affecflions,' 
yet of juftice and good will to their fellows, 
which is an important part of wifdom j I 
fay, not to have a fenfe of fome kind of 
moral goodnefs, nay, an efteem of it's ex- 
cellence and dignity, and that it afFordeth a 
true and even a very great pleafure to the 
mind. But if bad men have little experi- 
mental knowledge of the pleafantnefs of 
wifdom's ways, there is another thing they . 
have experience of which provcth it, that 
is, the painfulnefs of the ways of fin and 
V-OL, III F folly ; 



66 ^he Ways of Wijdom^ 

Serm. follyj for from that, if it be fufficiently 
attefled, it necelTarily followeth that the di- 
rectly contrary courfe of wifdom or religious 
virtue muft have yielded fatisfadion to them, 
and will yield fatisfadion to any who choofe 
it. Now, let any man who hath given 
himfelf the mofl unbounded liberty in grati- 
fying his inclinations, who in defiance of all 
the warnings he hath had, and the ineffec- 
tual remonflrances of his own confcience, 
hath indulged his pailions and hi& lufts with- 
out any controul, let him but calmly con- 
fider what pleafure he findeth in a review ; 
jwhether his enjoyments are not fucceeded 
with remorfe? Nay, whether his fhort-lived 
pleafures of fin are not much over-ballanced 
by the ftinging durable reflections of his felf- 
accufing and reproaching heart? Notwith- 
Jftanding all his endeavours to divert and 
ftifle it, (fometimes indeed thefe methods 
to a great degree, and the hearts of men are 
brought to a hardnefs and infenfibility which 
is amazing, their confciences, as the Apoftle 
fpeaketh, are feared, but is that an eafe 
worthy of a man, which arifeth from ftupid 
inconfideration ?) I fay, notwithflanding all 
his endeavours to flifle it, confcience will at 
fometimes with an irrcfiftible force break in 

upon 



W'ays of PleafantJiefs, 6'/ 

tlpon ills joys and mar them, efpecially ifSfeRM. 
any grievous calamities befal the finner, or HI. 
if death and judgment are prefented to his 
view; terror and anguifii then take hold of 
him and the wounds of his fpirit are intoler- 
able. Though very often during a courfe 
of profperity men do not know the terrors 
of the Lord, the unutterable griefs of an 
awakened confcience, yet no one who giveth 
himfelf leave to think ferioufly on fo impor- 
tant a fubjedl but mufl be convinced there is 
a reality in them, and his own heart will tell 
him the ways of fin lay a foundation fof 
felf-reproaches which are very grievous, too 
dear a price for fhort-lived criminal plea- 
fures. 

You fee now wherein the principal pain 
and uneafinefs that followeth fin, and on the 
other hand wherein the pleafantnefs of wif- 
dom's ways confifteth, the one in felf-con- 
demnation, the other in felf-approbation, 
Thefe are pleafures and pains very intimate, 
the fpring of them is in our own hearts, 
their operations are immediate, there is no 
intervening diftance to abate their force j we 
need not go far to feek our comforts, and 
we cannot fhun our forrows, for how can 
we fly from our own thoughts? It mufl be 
F 2 a great 



^8^ ^he Ways of Wifdomy 

Serm. a great aggravation of our griefs that they 
III. are of our own procuring, and it raifeth 

'joy to the greateft height that it fpringeth 
from an inward caufe, and is the refult of our 
own wife choice -, for then the mind hath 
the fatisfying profpedl of its continuance 
only by perfevering in the fame courfe. 
Proi;. xiv. 14. The backflider in heart Jhall 
be filled with his own waySy and a good man 

Jhall be fatisfied from himfelf There is no 
way of accounting for this but by the con- 
ftitution of our nature, and refolving it into 
the will of our great and wife Creator, who 
in fo forming our fouls hath fhewn plainly 
that we are made for religion and virtue, to 
which end ht hath furnifhed us with a 
powerful argument always ready at hand, 
feeing in the pradice of it we mufi: be felf- 
approved, which is a very great happinefs, 
and in the contrary, felf-condemned, which 
is an extreme mifery, who can doubt but it 
was the intention of our maker, the wifefl 
and moft gracious of all beings, to direct 
our choice to the ways of wifdom. 

Thirdly, The pleafantnefs of wifdom's 
ways may appear from this confideration, 
that they lead ta the enjoyment of the divine 
favour, and our walking in them is the. only 

foundation 



or* 

Wdys of Fkafiwtncfs. 69 

foundation upon which wc can have confi- S e r m. 
dence towards God. It muft be acknow- 
ledged, that he who is abfolutely fupreme^ 
can make his creatures happy or mifcrablc ; 
and reafon confirmeth wliat the fcripture 
declare th, that life is in his favour. It is, 
therefore, an unfpeakable pleafure to know 
that wc are entitled to his approbation, and 
an extreme mifery to be under the appre- 
henfions of his refentment : Who knoiveth 
the power of his anger F His juflice is armed 
with omnipotence to infliA punifhment, be- 
yond the reach of human imagination, on 
the obftinate workers of iniquity : But what 
can be wanting to the felicity of fuch as are 
in a flate of favour with him, feeing he is 
infinitely powerful and infinitely good I 
Now, there is no other ground upon which 
we can rationally form an expecftation that 
God will approve us, but our being appro- 
ved to ourfelves by a faithful difcharge of 
our duty j for this is a mofl evident truth, 
that if God accepteth of his reafonable crea- 
tures at all, it muft be in their doing that 
which, upon a diligent and impartial in- 
quiry, appeareth to their own underfland- 
ings bell:. If any pretended revelation did 
teach the contrary, I do not fee that we 

F 3 could 



yo ^he Ways of Wifdom, 

S E R M. could poflibly believe it, becaufe it would 

HI. deftroy natural religion, and, in efFedl, deny 
the moral attributes of God, the only foun- 
dation upon which we can fear, and love, 
and obey him. Bat chriflianity, the only 
complete revelation of his will, is fo far 
from teaching any fuch unreafonable doc^ 
trine, that it expreflly eftablifheth our hope 
in the way already explained, as alone agree- 
able to the didlates of reafon. St. Jchriy ia 
his I ft epiftle, 3d chapter, teacheth us, that 
the only ground upon which we can affure 
our hearts before God, or be perfuaded of 
our acceptance in his fight, is our knowing 
that ive are of the truths or that we have 
fincerely embraced and obeyed the gofpel, 
by the genuine fruits of charity and obe^ 
dience in our lives. If our hearts do not 
condemn us for inlincerity, that is, a<fling 
againft our confciences, or giving ourfelves 
up to the condudt of lufts and paffions, 
through their prevailing influence, or through 
floth and inattention, then we have confi- 
dence towards God 5 and that confidence 
will be a fpring of perpetual joy ; for as 
terror and confufion muil feize the mind 
fenfible of guilt, and of its being obnoxious 
tp the divine difpleafure, fo the ftrongefl 

confolatioa 



Ways of 'Pkafantnefs. yi 

coTifoIatlon mufl arife from the hope of be- Serm. 
ing acquitted by the great judge of the whole III- 
world, efpecially when we confider the fo- 
lemnity of the judgment, and the confe- 
quences of it, as they are defcribed in fcrip- 
ture, with an intention, as on the one 
hand, to alarm finners, and bring them to 
repentance j fo on the other, to comfort 
good men, by afluring them that tbeir work 
of faith ^ their labour of love, and patience of 
hope, fhall not be in vain. Now, if it be fo, 
that the experience of the beft men afTureth 
US, that the ftudy and practice of religion is 
pleafant j if the experience of all men, who 
are in the leall degree attentive, and even of 
the greateft finners, proves that the contrary 
crooked ways of vice and wickednefs have 
always a mixture of uneafinefs and bitternefs 
in the review ; and if both reafon and fcrip- 
ture make it evident, that the exercife of 
true religion and virtue is the only founda- 
tion upon which we can have good hope 
towards God, then it muft be acknowledged 
to be true, which Solomon fays in the text, 
that the ways of wifdom are pleafa?itnefs^ 
and her paths are peace. 

But yet farther to confirm us in this per- 

fuafion, we may confider the pleafures which 

F 4 ' accom- 



72 7he TFays of Wifdom, 

S E R M. accompany the pradice of lincere religion 5 
■^•^^- _ that is, which arife from the teftimony of 
an approving confcience, and the hope of 
the glory of God ; we may conlider thefe, 
I fay, in comparifon with other pleafures 
which are oppofitc to them, and which 
continually foiicit our affed:ions and our pur- 
fuit. For feeing the human nature is not 
capable of all kinds of delight at once, it is 
reafonable for us to make the beft our choice ; 
and feeing the pleafures of wifdom and of 
iin are utterly inconfiilent, fo that of necef- 
fity we muil hold to the one^ and refufe the 
other ^ the true queftion, in order to our be- 
ing rightly determined, is, which of the two 
kinds are the moft worthy, and in all re- 
fpeds the moft eligible ? It would be a vain 
attempt to perfuade men that there is no 
real pleafure in the gratification of their 
fenfes and the appetites of human nature \ 
to argue that the hungry feel no fatisfadion 
in meats, and the thirfty in refre/hing drinks, 
is to argue againft fenfe, and experience will 
quickly {how the vanity of fuch reafoning : 
Nay, it may be acknowledged farther, that 
voluptuous men, the lafcivious and the in- 
temperate, have by an habitual indulging of 
their inclinations, and by vicious cuftoms, 

raifed 



Ways of Plcafa?2tnefs. 73 

raifed in themfelves defires of carnal enjoy- Serm. 
ments, far beyond the demands of nature, ^11- 
which yield pleafures in the moment of gra- 
tifying them, though at the fame time they 
are accompanied with a great deal more 
pain, like quenching unnatural thirft in a 
fever j let it, I fay, be allowed, that they 
find pleafure in gratifying thefe defires, for 
that is the very bait which allures them to 
their criminal exceffes, againil: the fober 
did:ates of their own minds ; yet Hill it will 
appear that the pleafure of wifdom's ways is 
far more excellent, and on many accounts to 
be preferred. 

Fir/iy it is a juft prejudice againft the gra- 
tifications of fenfe, or of the merely animal 
life i I mean againfi: their being chief in our 
efleem and affedlion, that they are common 
with us to the brutal kinds. We fee the 
beafts have the outward fenfes to as ureat a 
degree of perfedion as we ; they eat, they 
drink, and perform all the fundions of the 
animal nature, and, as far as we can judge, 
with as exquifite a relifh, and as high a fatif- 
fadion as ourfelves. Now, do not we value 
ourfelves upon the prerogative of reafon, 
whereby we are exalted above, not only the 
inanimate and vegetable, but the fenfative 

creatures ? 
I 



y4 T'he Ways of Wifdom, 

Serm. creatures ? And (hall we fink fo far beneath 
III. the dignity of our fpecies, as in the choice 
of our pleafures, to be upon a level with the 
beafts of the earth ? As every fort of being 
capable of any happinefs at all, hath enjoy- 
ments fuitable to its powers and meafures of 
perfed:ion, thofe which are peculiar to man, 
mufl be the moft becoming him ; and fuch 
are the pleafures of wifdom, of their parti- 
cipating in which the brutes give not the 
leall difcovery. Not only fo, but the plea- 
fures of fenfe, licentioufly indulged, and in 
the forbidden degree, weaken reafon, and 
marr its free exercife, which is a flrong ob- 
jection againft them. Can any thing be 
worthy an intelligent and free agent, which 
darkens his underflanding, and impares his 
freedom ? Now, every man hath too much 
experience, if he ferioufly refledteth, not to 
be fenlible that carnal gratifications, immo- 
derately purfued, caft a fhadow over the un- 
derflanding ; that they are accompanied with 
perturbation, and diflipate the vigour of the 
foul. Set againfl thefe the joys of an ap- 
proving confcience, the peace which arifeth 
from the love of God's law, and an inward 
fenfe of our own integrity, and fee whether 
they are not of a nobler character ? They 

are 



Ways of Pkafantnefs, y^ 

are pure and ferene, attended with no tu- S e r M. 
rnult ; and inflead of impairing the higher H^. 
powers of the mind, the underilanding and 
liberty, they preferve them in the greateft 
compofure and undiflurbed exercifc, and ia 
their mofl healthful and vigorous ftate. 

2^fyi The pleafures of this world are but 
very precarious 3 we can h^ve no fure hold 
of them, nor any certainty in our profpe^t 
of a future enjoyment of them j a man hath 
it not in his power to command them when 
he will ; they depend on external objedts 
which cannot be always prefent, and if they 
were, could not always pleafe. It is but a 
poor confolation that lies at the mercy of 
time and chance, and which therefore mufl: 
be fubjed: to continual difappointments. 
When one has the keeneft appetites, the 
ftrongeft inclinations to entertain himfelf 
agreeably, his hopes are often fruflrated, 
being liable to many unforefeen incidents 
and indifpofitions in the objedl, or a fudden 
indifpoiition in the faculty marrs his expelled 
pleafure : But the good man is fatisfied from 
liimfelf, his joy and peace do not depend 
on variable accidents, he retireth into his 
own heart, where he enjoys an inward har- 
Daony and tranquility, not interrupted by 

jai-ring 



^6 The Ways of JVifdom, 

Serm. jarring paflions, or the galling reproaches of 
III. a guilty confcience. Who would not prefer 
even a moderate fatisfa(5tion which never 
fails, but is always ready to meet us when 
we turn our thoughts towards it, to a delight 
which might for once, or very feldom, be 
tranfporting 3 (if that were the cafe, though 
really it is not, for the pleafures of the fpi- 
ritual kind are the more intenfe as well as 
certain) I fay, to an enjoyment, which, if it 
were very great and even fuperior, is difficult 
of accefs, requireth a concurrence of various 
circumftances and events not in our power, 
and overballanceth all the fatisfadion it 
yields, with painful delays and vexatious 
difappointments ? Efpecially, if we add, in 
the next place, that carnal pleafures are but 
of a ihort continuance, being defigned by 
the author of nature not to be the chief bu- 
finefs and enjoyment of a reafonable being, 
but for certain particular ends in the animal 
life, which, when they are anfwered, the 
pleafure dies, nay, is often turned into aver- 
fion and diflafte, and always the review of 
them is at leaft infipid. Thus the pcrfons 
whom Solomon calleth wine-bibbers and 7'io- 
tons eaters ofjlejh, have no lafting fatisfac- 
tion in that fenfual delight they chufe ; 

when 



TVays of Pleafanfnefs. 77 

when the ends of nature are obtained, theSERM. 
appetite palls, fatiety comes in the place of HI. 
pleafare, meats and drinks become naufeous, 
and the ufe of them opprelTeth rather than 
pleafeth. No man is able to recal pleafarcs 
of that fort, he rather fhuns a reficdlon 
upon them, from a confcioufnefs that they 
will not bear the calm examination of his 
own mind. On the contrary, the pleafant- 
nefs of wifdom's ways, defigned for the 
conftant exercife, and the conftant enter- 
tainment of the mind, never flattens, never 
becomes taflelefs or burthenfome ; it will 
abide the trial of our cooleft thoughts, and 
the more we examine it, ftill it will be the 
more delightful, always frefh, always new ; 
and the more we ufe it, the more it encrea- 
feth, and will ftill encreafe, till the pure 
ftream endeth in rivers of pleafiires which 
are at God's right hand, as the Pfalmift 
fpeaketh j and the joy groweth up to that 
fuhiefs which is in his prefence. 

Laftly, Thefe are to be accounted the 
greateft, the nobleft, and in all refpeds the 
moft valuable comforts, which fupport and 
relieve the mind in its greatefl need. See- 
ing we find ourfelves liable to calamities of 
feveral forts, and particularly to death, which 



IS 



7S T/3^ U^ays of WiJdonU 

Serm. is the moll (hocking to nature on its owft 
Hi- account, and is more dreadful to a confide*^ 
rate mind, becaufe of its important confe- 
quences, certainly it mull be our wifdom 
to make the bell provilion we can againll 
the evil day, and to chufe thofe pleafures, 
if any fuch there be, which will not fail 
even then. But no enjoyment of this world, 
and leall of all the pleafures of lin. Hand us 
in any Head when the hour of dillrefs Com- 
eth. What comfort hath the mifer in his 
treafures, what delight hath the vicious in 
his debauches, when licknefs feizeth the 
body, and the fear of judgment taketh hold 
of the foul l But then the religious, the 
truly wife man, polTelTeth an undillurbed, 
calm, and a felf-applauding triumph, he 
looketh back on a well-fpent life with joy, 
appealing to God as Hezekiah did, Remejn^ 
her^ Liordy I befeech thee^ how I have walked 
before thee^ in truths and with a perfe£i 
heart, and have done that which is good in 
thy fght. And he looketh forward to a 
future judgment, and an eternal flate, with 
confidence. 

And now, my brethren, thefe things are 
fpoken as to wife men, judge ye what isfaid-, 
let us calmly confider and judge, whether, 

ab](lra(^ing 

4 



Ways of Fkafantnefs. 79 

abftracfling from other arguments, religion S e R M, 
hath not the advantage of fuperior pleafure 
on its fide, and even on that account juftly 
claimeth that we fhould prefer it to the con- 
trary courfe. I know the prejudices of men 
incline them to a different opinion, and it is 
very ufual for thofe who are the leaft ac- 
quainted with it, to paint it in their own 
imagination with a four forbidding afpedl. 
Whatever other arguments may enforce it, 
and hard neceffity, perhaps, may ftrongly 
urge them to it, when they think on a fu- 
ture judgment, yet they mufl lay their ac- 
count to part with all pleafure when they 
devote themfelves to the fludy of godhnefs 
and fobriety ; efpecially, the light in which 
the New Teftament fetteth the religious ex- 
ercifes which it enjoineth, the duties of re- 
pentance, mortification, felf-denial, and pa- 
tience, carry forrow and feverity in the very 
found of them ; and to confirm all this, it 
is fometimes obferved, that the people who 
feem to be ferious and devout, who have 
a great appearance of piety, are the mofl 
eflranged from joy. 

This is a matter worthy of our ferious 
confideration, that we may be able to form 
a right judgment ^ but when the objedion is 

allowed 



So- The Ways ofWifdoniy 

Serm. allowed all its jufl; weight, I hope it will 
III. ll;ill appear that the ways of wifdom are 
ways of pleafantnefs. To begin with what 
was laft mentioned as an argument from 
fad: and experience, that fome ferious and 
devout perfons feem to have the leaft plea- 
fiirej not to mention the cafe of hypocrites, 
who, as our Saviour faith, disfigure their 
faces, and are of a fad countenance, which 
ought not at all to ailed; the caufe of reli- 
gion, being a mere counterfeit ; it mull be 
acknowledged that fome ferious melancholy 
perfons fpend their lives very uncomfortably, 
almoft in continual fear and grief. But 
whence doth this arife ? Pray, take their 
own teftimony ; they will all agree that the 
true caufe is a fufpicion of their infincerity j 
not only their paft tranfgreffions are the oc- 
cafion of their prefent grief, but they are 
afraid left their compliance with the gofpel 
terms of acceptance be defedive, their per- 
formance of their duty cometh fo far fhort 
as they think of what God requireth, and 
the corruptions of their hearts are fo ftrong, 
breaking out into fo many trangreffions. 
Now, can it ever be reafonable to impute 
that forrow to religion as the proper caufe, 
which by the confeilion of thofe who fuffer ■ 

it 



JVays of Pleafanfncfs, 8 r 

it arifeth wholly from the want or imperfec- Ser M. 
tion of religion ? Aflc thofe whofe deep hu- HI* 
miliation and fear render life uncomfortable, 
whether they would not be comforted even 
more than in the greatefl abundance of corn 
and wine, if they found in themfelves fcn- 
{\h\y faith laorhiig by love, and all the chri- 
flian virtues in fuch lively vigorous exercife 
as their own confciences could without any 
fcruple witnefs to their fincerity 5 and they 
will readily anfwer in the affirmative 5 fo 
that their experience is no objecftion agalnft 
the dodtrine of the text, but rather confirm- 
eth it. Befides, if fome melancholy per- 
fons who are religioufly difpofed fliall ima- 
gine that religion abridgeth their freedom in 
the ufe of fome things, which are in them- 
felves innocent, this proceedeth from a 
miftake, and is wholly to be attributed to 
their weaknefs. The chearful temperate 
ufe of worldly enjoyments is not prohibited 
by the precepts of wifdom, which only re- 
trench overgrown immoderate defires j and 
thefe are fo fir from tending to the meafure 
of happinefs which the liberal author of na- 
ture defigned for us in the prefent flate, that 
they mar it rather. 
iil.7 

Vol. III. G idly. 



82 'The Ways of Wifdom^ 

Serm. 2^/y, It muft be acknowledged thatdiffi- 
III. culty and pain, in certain inftances, attend 
the firft entrance upon a religious and vir- 
tuous courfe of life. When men have aban- 
doned themfelves to profligate wickednefs, 
and a long cuftom of finning hath ilrength- 
ened their pronenefs to it, it cannot be ex- 
pe(5led it fhould be eafy for them to break it 
off at once and pradice the contrary virtues. 
We fee that habits of any fort are v^^ith dif- 
ficulty unlearned and difufed, cfpecially thofe 
vv^hich are founded on a propenlity of nature 
and bias of the mind. The fcripture there- 
fore reprefenteth repentance and mortification 
as painful, exprefUng them by rending the 
hearty plucking out the eye, and cutting off 
the hand ^ yet even the very beginnings of 
reformation are not v^^ithout pleafurej the 
£rfl purpofes which a man formeth of doing 
his duty yield him fatisfadtion, efpecially 
fince there is hope of a happy ifTue if they 
be heartily purfued ; and we are not left to 
ftruggle alone with our weaknefs, but alTured 
that the fuperior aids of divine grace will be 
granted to them that afk. But every ftep 
of our progrefs in the paths of holinef* wiU 
bring an increafe of delight fufficient to re- 
compenfe all the toil and uneafinefs which 

attend 



Ways of Flcajcintnefi. 83 

attend it. Let a man arm himfelf with refo- S e r m,' 
lution to refift the moft vehement temptations, I ^I- 
and thwart the moft prefling inclinations of 
his own heart to fin, he will find that every 
inftance of his doing fo will diffufe joy thro* 
his mind, and make his conqaeft eafier in 
the next afTault j the righteous jl: all hold 07z 
his IV ay, and he who hath clean hands fiall 
grow jironger and ftrojiger^ 

If, now, it appeareth that the ways of 
wifdomare ways of pleafantnefs and peace j 
if the objedllons againft it are fo weak and 
infufficient^ if the real difficulties arife not 
from the nature and reafon of the thing, 
but from our prejudices, inexperience, and 
irrefolution, and they are all fuperable by 
the means God hath afforded, that grace of 
his which hringeth Salvation, and hath ap~ 
peared imto zis ; if it be fo, one would 
think the argument is very ftrong, confound- 
ing the jirong hold cf fin, fpoiling it of that 
in which its greateft ftrength lieth, namely, 
pleafure; for wifdom is fuperior even in 
that, and allureth us by a more folid, lalling, 
and certain fatisfadtion. Surely human na- 
ture muft be ftrangely loft to a juft fenfe of 
its own true intereft, if it can refift fuch 
a motive. Though the demands of autho- 
G 2 rity 



84 '^he Ways of Wifdom^ 

Serm. rity might feem harfh, and the threatnings 
m* of penalties affright, yet the profped: of 
pleafure muft, one would think, powerfully, 
jnfinuate itfelf into the mind, and captivate 
its affed;ions. 

In a particular manner, let the thoughts of 
chriftians dwell on the glorious gofpel where- 
by their confolation is amply provided for. 
Our Saviour fpoke his excellent dodlrines 
and precepts to his difciples, that his joy 
might remaiji in them, and that their joy 
might be full j he hath promifed the holy 
Spirit under the amiable charadler of the 
comforter-, it is the peculiar work of that 
divine Agent, that relident in the church in 
behalf of the Father and the Son, to con- 
firm the argument in the text, to minifler 
confolation to them who fincerely walk in 
wifdom's ways. And this fhould engage us 
to adore our gracious God and Redeemer 
who had our comfort fo much at heart. 
We have a bountiful mafter who not only 
hath afcertained to his fervants a great re- 
ward in reveriion, but, even now, impart- 
eth to them that joy which is their flrength, 
and attrad:eth their deiires to that perfedion 
of comfort which is to be enjoyed in his pre- 
fence^ for the fpirit is given as a pledge or 

earneft 



Ways of Pleafantnefs. 85 

earneftof the future inheritance, Eph. i. 14. Serm, 
2 Cor, V. 5. confirming our hopes and mak- HI. 
ing us earneftly defirous, not to be zincloathed, 
but cloathed upon with cur houfe which is 
from heaven. 



Q X S E R- 



[ 86 1 

SERMON IV. 

WISDOM the Strength of the 
MIND. 

PROVERBS XXIV. 5. 

A wife man is flrong^ yea a Ma7i of know- 
ledge increafeth firength. 

S E R M. '~|~^ H E ftate of human afFairs in this world 
Jl is found by experience to be very un- 
certain J the profperity we enjoy this day may 
not continue to the next; we fee fo many 
furprizing revolutions in the external condi- 
tions of men, of all ftations in life, as con- 
firm what the Pfalmill faith, FfaL Ixii. 9. 
Surely men of low degree are vanity^ and 
men of high degree are a lie ; to be laid in the 
hallance^ they are altogether lighter than 
vanity. Thefe changes very often have un- 
happy effects on the temper of our minds ; 
they produce difpiriting fears and over- 
whelming forrows, and, as a confequence of 
both, perplexity and irrefolution, which 
are the difhonour and torment of the rea- 

fonable 



Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 87 

ibnable nature. In the fudden approaches Serm.' 
of difficulty, the mind is filled with con- IV. 
fternation, which darkeneth the underftand- 
ing, and confoundeth the adive powers j 
and under the preflures of afflid:ion and the 
reverfes of what is commonly called fortune, 
it is feeble and unrefolved. It muft be ac- 
knowledged that a defence againft thefe 
evils would be very defirable ; if there be 
any fuch thing at all to be attained as a jufl 
fecurity and confidence of mind on a ra- 
tional foundation, who would not purchafe 
it at any rate, that feeing it is not poffible 
to prevent outward changes, we may at leaft 
prevent their difmal inward efFeds, and pof- 
fefs a conflant equanimity, an uniform peace 
and fteady refolution in our fouls ? And this, 
I think, Solomon doth in his book of Fro- 
'verbs, among other great advantages, at- 
tribute to wifdom or religious virtue ; par- 
ticularly in the text, where he faith, A wije 
man is jlrong, yea a tnan of hioivlcdge in* 
creafeth frcngth. 

No one will imagine that it is bodily 
ftrength which Is here meant, which hath 
no connexion at all with wifdom (a fool, 
or a wicked man, may have more brutal 
force than the wifeft and the beil of man- 
G 4 ' kind: 



88 Wijdom the Strength of the Mind. 

S E R M. kind) but a rational and virtuous fortitude 
IV". which groweth up with other branches of 
religion, and is the happy attendant of an 
increafing and univerfal integrity. 

In difcourfing on this fubjed:, I think it 
will be natural, 

Firft^ To confider the difeafed and feeble 
flate of mind again ft which wifdom is 
the proper remedy 3 or that weaknefs and 
the fymptoms of it, which is natural to 
men without wifdom or virtue. 

Secondly, I will endeavour to fhew wherein 
the ftrength of the wife man lieth, and 
how wifdom or religious virtue is the 
cure of our weaknefs and its fymptoms. 

i/?. Let us confider the difeafed and feeble 
flate of mind, againft which wifdom is the 
proper remedy j and it feemeth to confift in an 
indifpofition for the due exercife of its pow- 
ers. The body is then diftempered and weak, 
when it is unfit for the functions of nature, 
when its members or organs are unapt for 
the right difcharge of their proper offices in 
the animal ceconomy ; and fo the mind, render- 
ed uncapable of fuch offices, fuch adivity and 
exertions as become fuch a being, is weak 
and difeafed. This is its unhappy cafe when 

the 



Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 89 

the underftanding is fo over-clouded as not S e r m. 
to difcern what is necefTary to a jufl con- IV. 
dudl, or when the felf-determining power is 
infeebled that it cannot adl ftcadily and uni- 
formly, or it hath not that felf-enjoyment, 
inward compofure and tranquillity, which 
ought to attend the due exercife of all its fa- 
culties in a found and healthful conftitution j 
fo that the principal fymptoms of that weak 
and diftempered condition are darknefs, ir- 
refolution, and difcomfort. 

I have already infinuated, that the weak- 
nefs againfl which wifdom fortifieth the 
foul is efpecially difcovered in the difficul- 
ties of life, and therefore principally appear- 
eth in the prevalence of the pallions which 
are excited by them, and are fammed up in 
averfion, that is, in the prevalence of fear, and 
forrow, and anger. It is true, the other paffions 
have by a different manner of operation the 
fame effed 3 they are all of them the weak 
part of the human nature j they are, indeed, 
when duly governed, very ufeful and orna- 
mental to fuch a creature as man in his pre- 
fent condition, and plainly fliew the great 
wifdom and goodnefs of our Creator 3 but 
reafon and moral confcience is the man; in 
its vigor and authority over the inferior 
fprings of adtion^ our ftrength lieth : The 

excefles 



90 Wijdom the Strength of the Mind, 

Serm. excefles of paffion and lower affeftion to 
IV. which we find ourfelves liable in this pro- 
bationary flate, are the diflempers of the 
mind which wifdom cureth. But what I 
chiefly intend at this time, agreeably to many 
paflages in this book, to which I may after- 
wards refer, is, to ihew how the wife man 
is ftrong, and the man of knowledge in- 
creafeth flrength againft the trials and ad- 
verfe occurrences of life, 

I/?, Fear is an infirmity natural to man, 
which very often hath pernicious effedls, 
and in itfelf, abftrading from its effeds, is 
very uncomfortable. I believe every one 
hath experience enough to make him fenfible 
thaty^^r hath torment. Though there feem^ 
eth to be a great difference as to this parti- 
cular in the natural frame and conftitution of 
men ; fome are much more hardy and re- 
folved, more calm, and have greater prefence 
of mind in the expectation of evil than others j 
yet I fcarcely believe there are any who have 
not felt fometimes fuch fhocks and furprizes, 
under the apprehenfion of danger, as were 
painful to them. Now, there needeth no 
reafonins: to fhew that this is a weaknefs and 
mifery -, we know it by an inward confciouf- 
nefs. Every living creature, according to 

2 its 



Wifdom the Strength oj the Mind. p j 

its meafure of perfedion, hath a felf-enjoy- Serm, 
pient, findeth eafe and fatisfadion in its IV. 
found and healthful flate ; and it might be 
cxpeded it fhould be fo, confidcring the 
great gocdnefs of the Creator. But it was 
wifely provided that fuch of them as arc 
liable to dangers and annoyances from 
abroad, fliould have a painful appre- 
Jienfion of them, in order to their being 
put upon the fpeedieft methods for avoiding 
J;hem. This is the end of fear in their 
conflitution. We fee the brute kinds plain- 
ly difcover it, in their narrow fphere of fen- 
fible objeds which threaten them, and 
from which all their danger arifeth j they 
are quickly apprifed, and immediately di- 
refted, without deliberation, to all they can 
jdo for their fafety. But man is made with 
a larger comprehenfion, and with the pri- 
vilege of forefight, by which he difcover^ 
cth a greater variety of dangers, and feeth 
them at a greater diflance ; and this certainly 
was not originally intended to be his tor- 
ment 5 but, if it be fo in event, it mufl be 
by way of penal inflidion for his fliults, or 
a diftemper of his mind againft which there 
is a proper remedy provided. This, then, is 
the firft part of our weaknefs, of which 
wifdom is the cure, 

2dly, 



gz Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 

Serm. 2dly^ If we alter the fituation of diffi- 
IV. cult uneafy circumflances and events in life, 
and, inftead of the perturbation which at- 
tendeth the profpedt of them as future, con- 
iider them as adtually incumbent, they pro- 
duce the pafiion called grief, which ifi our 
prefent condition we are too well acquainted 
with to need any explication of it. It is 
not, indeed, equal in all men, no more than 
fear, even when the outward occafion is 
the fame or equal. There are fome fpirits 
which can much better than others fuftain 
their infirmity ; and yet I think we muft all 
be fenfible, that in the vaft variety of trou- 
bles to which man is born, one or other 
doth fo prefs the weak fide of every human 
conftitution, that it requireth a force above 
that of mere, unimproved, and uncultivated 
nature to fupport it ; that is, it requireth re- 
ligious wifdom ; without the aid of which, 
it will fink us into a painful indifpofition 
and weaknefs of mind. 

Another pafiion belonging to the fame 
clafs, is anger ; when the difagreeable event 
is confidercd as an injury, and as befalling 
us by the injufi:ice or ill-will of a voluntary 
agent. The true defign of this in our con- 
ftitution, is the fame with that of the other 
1 paflions. 



Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 93 

pafTions, that is, our own prefervation ; and Serm. 
there it ought to reft. But often it is ac- I^*^* 
companied with a violent propenfion to the 
mifcry of the apprehended injurious, and 
tranfporteth men into a behaviour very un- 
becoming them, and which they cannot re- 
fledl upon without regret and confuiion. 

Now, let us confider the fymptoms which 
commonly appear in men, and are produ- 
ced by thefe original caufes of our diforders 
in our prefent infirm ftate, that fo we may 
fee the need of wifdom as a remedy, if it 
be indeed a remedy. And, firft, we find 
that during the prevalence of the pafTions al- 
ready mentioned, and efpecially in their firil 
and moft violent alTaults, the underftanding 
is obfcured, at leaft, we have not the due 
ufe of it. How often are men in the extre- 
mities of fear, and forrow, and anger, redu- 
ced almofl to an incapacity of thinking? 
and even, in lower degrees of thefe paffions, 
they have not fuch clear views of things, 
which efpecially are more immediately ne- 
ceflary in their prefent circumftances, as 
otherways they might have. It feemeth to 
be the natural tendency of pain to arrefl the 
thoughts J the mind is detained in the af- 
flidHng confideration of that which render- 
eth it uneafy, without having freedom to 

view 



94 IVlfdom the Strength of the Mind, 

SERM.vIew other objeds, or even the grievous ob- 
IV. jed: itfelf on all fides ; whereas the proper 
exercife of the rational powers is^ in confi- 
dering calmly and deliberately what is pre- 
fented to the mind, efpeclally, which nearly 
concerneth its own intereft ; attentively 
viewing all its properties, relationSj and ten- 
dencies, comparing fedately all things which 
may enlighten the counfels of the heart, and 
fo prepare for a juft conclufion. And, 
furely, the mind is weak and difeafed, when 
the underftanding is not rightly exercifed ; 
for that is the glory of man, the leading fa- 
culty of the foul 5 according to the direction 
of which, and the refult of its deliberations, 
every thing muft be regularly done, both 
for the purpofes of duty and happinefs. 

^dly^ In purfuance of this, the counfels 
of the mind are full of perplexity. How- 
ever unprofitably and indeliberately, yet ftill 
it thinketh on the difagreeable objed:, and 
cannot be diverted from it j its thoughts arc 
attended with a great deal of difturbance 
and confulion, but as little light as comfort ; 
for, if the paffions darken the underftand- 
ing, they quicken the imagination, which 
during their prevalence is exceeding fruitful, 
continually employed in forming images of 

the 



JVifdoin the Strength of the Mind. 95 

the fame complexion with that which fet- Serm. 
teth it a work j frightful ones, when we are 1 *^* 
under the power of fear -, melancholy, when 
grief is prevalent ; and images of provocations 
received, and mifchief to be done in return, 
during the impetuofity of anger. 

3^/>', As thefe imaginations raifed in the 
mind by the influence of paffion, are not 
the proper directors of our condudl, the pre- 
valence of them, and their multiplicity, ac- 
companied with darknefs, confufion, and 
tumult, produce irrefolution, inftability, and 
fatal precipitation. The mind, if it deter- 
mineth itfclf at all, doth it upon flight 
grounds, or fuch as are not duly and ma- 
turely weighed, and therefore rafhly ; the 
confequence of which is unlteddinefs 3 for 
if we form a purpofe upon the imagination 
or fuggeftion of a paillon which happeneth 
to be uppermoli, having no fure ground, it 
quickly changeth, and fo doth the purpofe 
with it. But, for the moft part, the mind 
is in fufpenfe, not knowing what to refolve -, 
it looketh on the right hand and on the left, 
and can fee nothing but uncertainty. I 
think every one mufl be convinced that this, 
indeed, is weaknefs, and exceedingly uncom- 
fortable ^ the foul is rendered, in a great 

meafure. 



96 Wijdom the Strength of the Mind, 

Serm. meafure, uncapable of doing any thing wor- 
IV. thy of itfelf, or in profecution of its true in- 
tereft, and it hath very Uttle enjoyment. 
The Pfalmift expreffeth himfelf very feel- 
ingly on this fubjedt, Fjal. xiii. 2. How long 
Jhall I take counfel in my foul, having fa-row 
in my heart daily ? When forrow or fear is 
in the heart, the foul is then taking counfel 
in itfelf, but to little purpofe, and with very 
little fatisfadlion. If it be poflible to find 
relief againft the difadvantages and difcom- 
fort of fuch a ftate, to which we are all 
fubje(5l in fome degree, one would think we 
Ihould be difpofed readily to embrace it 5 
which leadeth me to confider, in the 

Second Place, Wherein the ftrength of the j 
wife man lieth, and how wifdom, or reli- 
gious virtue, is fitted to adminifter a cure of 
our weaknefs and its fymptoms j which I j 
fhall illuftrate according to the method al- * 
ready laid down, that is, by fhewing it is a 
proper antidote againfl the evils I have men- 
tioned. And, firft, it is a defence againft 
fear ; fo Solomon teacheth us, chap. iii. 23. 
having exhorted to keep found wifdom and 
difcretion, he addeth, T^hen Jhalt thou walk 
in thy way jafely, and thy foot JI2 all notjlum- 

ble; 



Wifdom the Strefigth of the Mifid, 97 

ble J ivhen thcii Heft dciv?iy thou Jhalt not be S E R M. 
afraid; yea, thou /Jjalt He dowjt, and thy ^''' 
Jleep fiall be fweet. And the following 
words, in the 25th verfe, may be under- 
flood as a continuation of tlie promife, Be 
not afraid cf fuddenfear, neither of the de- 
folation of the wicked ivhen it comet h. But, 
to explain this more particularly, let us ob- 
ferve, that religious wifdom fupporteth the 
mind againft the fear of uncomfortdble events 
in life, becaufe it reprefentetli them as too 
inconliderable to afFe(^l our main interefts. 
That which naturally maketh us folicitous 
about any future event is, the opinion we 
have of its importance to us -, if we appre- 
hend it to be of fmall moment, the founda- 
tion of fear is taken away. This is the rea- 
fon why men of weak and corrupt minds 
are thrown into fuch confufion when any 
danger threateneth their worldly concerns, 
becaufe they regard them as their All, and 
cannot relieve themfelves by looking up to 
a fuperior interejfl, which is fafe, and out 
of the reach of danger. But the good }?ian 
is fatifed from himfelf his integrity is his 
chief treafure ; and while that remaineth 
untouched, he is fecure againft every thing 
in this world which can befal him, and 
Vol. III. II meeteth 



98 Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 

Serm. meeteth danger with intrepidity, becaufe it 
IV. can only deprive him of things which are 
not the highefl in his efteem, nay, are con- 
fidered only as minute circumftances in com- 
parifon, far from his principal and moft 
fubftantial felicity. That virtue is a greater 
good than riches, worldly honours, and car- 
nal pleafures, hath been profefled as a prin- 
ciple by many heathens ; and every one wha 
na?nefh the name of Chrijiy and is his difci- 
ple, muft be fuppofed to avow it; or, in 
words agreeable to the flile of the gofpel, 
that the new creature, the image of God 
repaired in us, the fpiritual life effedted in 
the foul by the grace of Chrift, and the 
operation of the Holy Spirit, is more excel- 
lent than any enjoyment in this life, and the 
immediate and moft necefTary preparation 
for the greateft happinefs in the next. But 
the wife man is thoroughly pofTelTed with 
thefe fentiments, and according to them 
formeth the difpofitions of his fpirit, and 
according to them are governed all his affec- 
tions and paffions, his delire and averfion,. 
bis joy and grief, his hope and fear. 

2dly, The teftimony of our confciencc 
concerning our fincerity, which is the pe- 
culiar enjoyment of the man whom Solomon 
calleth wifcy is an efFedual prefer vative 

againft 



Wtfdom the Strength of the Mbid. gg 

agalnfl immoderate deje(fting fears, as itSERM.' 
giveth us confidence towards God, and af- IV". 
furance of his favour. Men cannot help, 
even thofe who are the mofl averfe to them, 
having apprehenlions of a Supreme Being, 
the wife and jufl governor of the world, 
who is pleafed with the righteous, and an- 
gry with the wicked every day, and his ven- 
geance ready to break upon their heads in 
terrible judgments; and, therefore, when 
danger threateneth them, the terror of it is 
increafed by this jealoufy, that it is fraught 
with the difpleafure of the incenfed deity, 
tvhich ilriketh the foul with dread, far be- 
yond what could be raifed by the event in 
itfelf confidered. A guilty accufing con- 
fcience is haunted continually with the fright- 
ful images and grievous remembrance of its 
own crimes, which pierce it through with 
anxiety, and make it imagine every thing it 
meeteth, to be a meffenger of wrath. But 
the TOod man is free from fuch QifiTadling 
furnixies and confounding fears. This is'the 
reafon of what Solomon obferveth, and which 
is confirmed by experience, P?'ov. xxviii. i. 
The wicked jiee nvhen no man purfucthy but 
the righteous are bold as a lion, N .•: but 
that wicked men are often fearlcfs of danger, 

H 2 and 



1 oo Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 

S ERM. and meet it with the greatefl figns of refo- 
ld- lutionj yet it is certain, the farther men 
depart from virtue and integrity, their cou- 
rage rnufl: be the more unfleady, and the 
appearance of it, which is founded in paf- 
lion, is no other than brutal rage, like the 
iiercenefs of a lion, or the mettle of an horfe 
that ruflieth into the battle ; but paffion is 
not able to bear up the mind in a feries of 
dangers ; for the clamour of confcience will 
return and flrike the flouteft heart with ter- 
ror and amazement. A fedate and conftant 
fortitude, efpecially in adverfity of a long 
continuance, can only be the effedl of an 
immoveable uprightnefs, and flow from the 
inward peaceful reflections of an approving 
mind. 

"i^dljy The wife man is ftrong againfl: fear, 
becaufe his confidence is in the divine all- 
fufficiency, love, and faithfulnefs. This is 
the reafon our author giveth, chap. iii. 26. 
For the Lord fid all be thy confidence^ and fi^all 
keep thy foot from being taken. No wonder 
they are at a lofs in hazardous conjundures, 
who know of no fuperior power to interpofe 
in their behalf, to avert evil, or over- rule it 
to a good ifllie. Chance and neceflity, as 
the caufe of events, are the refuge of igno- 
rant minds, wilfully Hiut and hardened 

againfl 



W'lfdom the Strength of the Mind. i o i 

againfl: the knowledge of God, as the great S e r m. 
and wife governor of the world ; but a poor ^ V. 
refuge they are in the evil day. What com- 
fort can any one have in looking to empty 
infignificant words (for really chance and 
iieceility are no more) under the doubtful 
expedlation of an overwhelming calamity ? 
But faith controulcth the fears of a religious 
mind, for it reprefenteth an intelligent, pow- 
erful, and gracious providence, as fuperin- 
tending all affairs, and direding all events 
irrefiftibly ; it refleth fatisfied in infinite 
goodnefs, from which joyful hopes may be 
formed even in the laft extremity ; it reiie(5t- 
eth comfortably on the experience which 
good men have had of God's favour, reliev- 
ing them, and giving an expe(5led end to 
all their troubles 5 for he hath been their 
dwelling-place in all generations^ as the 
Pfalmifl: fpeaketh -, and efpecially, embra- 
cing the revelation God hath given, it re- 
lieth on his covenant with his people, in 
which are folemn promifes fufficient to fup- 
port their fpirits even in the laft article of 
danger, fuch as, that he will never leave nor 
for fake thetn ; he will give grace and glory, 
and withhold no good thing from them that 
walk uprightly 5 and, that all things Jf:all 
H 3 work 



102 Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 

S E R M. work together J or good to them that Io;pe 
IV. God. 

And as the foul of man, confclous of its 
fpiritual nature and independence on the 
perilling body, and of its natural defire of 
immortality, extendeth its prefaging views 
to an eternal ftate, and can never be tho- 
roughly fecure againfl fear, without fome 
good profpedt of a future felicity ; this is the 
compleat confolation and fupport of the good 
or the wife man ; he rejoiceth in the hope 
of the glory of God, in the midft of fur- 
rounding calamities ', and when there is no 
hope of evalion this confidence is not abated, 
yo5 refolved, therefore, that though God 
Jhould Jlay hitn^ yet he would tritjl in him ; 
which, furely, mufl import an expedtation 
of favour from him after death. The chri- 
flian religion propofeth this to us more 
clearly, for our Lord Jefus Chrift hath 
brought life and immortality to light through 
the go/pel-, and therefore the very reafon the 
apoflle giveth, why we faint not, though 
cur outward man perifjeth, is, becaufe we 
took not at the things which are feen, but at 
' the thifigs which are 720t feen ; for the things 
which are feen are temporaly but the things 
which are not feen are eternah 

What 



Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 103 

What I have faid on this head, fheweth S e r M. 
in a great meafure the llrength of the wife ^ '^ • 
man againfl forrow^ fo that it will not be 
neceffary to infift upon it ; we have no more 
to do than alter the fcene, to transfer the 
calamities of life from the profpe(5t to the 
incumbency of them 3 and that which fup- 
ports the mind againft the one, will be alfo 
a relief againfl the other. 

The reafons why afflidling occurences are 
often fo fl:iocking to men that life linketh un- 
der the burden and pineth away in mifery,arej 
that we over-value the good things of which 
they deprive us 5 for in proportion to the affec- 
tion of defire, fo will the grief always be ; 
and becaufe they are inflamed with an appre- 
henfion of God's wrath, and the conciouf- 
nefs of guilt maketh them to be conlidered 
as penal inflidions of his juftice, on which 
account deliverance is defpaircd of, Nay, 
the melancholy view of the mourner is 
lengthned out to the utmofl: duration of his 
being, that is, to eternity. Againft all this, 
religious virtue is the fovereign and univerfal 
relief; it reprefenteth a more fubflantial en- 
joyment to counterballancethe prefent pain, a 
reconciled God and an approving confcience, 
as a perpetual fpring of joy, and an eternal 
H 4 weight 



1 04 Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 

Serm. weight of glory to reconipenfe the pain and 
Iv, toil of the prefent ftate, which are, in com- 
parifon, but a light affliction and for a mo- 
ment. 

The fan^e principles and fentiments in the 
mind of a wife man reilrain immoderate 
anger, which, as Solomon faith, refteth in 
the bofom of fools ^ Ecclef. vii. 9. H'^ con- 
fidcrcth the trarifports of pdffionate wrath 
as the impotence of the foul deftroying it's 
peace ; that no provocations or injuries which 
can be done to him in this world can afFedt 
his main interell; they appear to him very 
inconliderable things while he enjoyeth tran- 
quillity within, and believeth God is his 
friend, who can make even his enemies to 
to be at peace with him, can afTwage their 
malice or controul it's moil violent efforts, 
and whofe loving kindnefs is a fund of fu- 
perior confolation, even better than life it- 
felf, beyond which the utmoft rage of men 
cannot reach j and, finally, as the great rule 
by which he formeth his temper and con- 
dud: is, the imitation of the Deity, he 
conlidereth that nothing is more godlike than 
to forgive injuries, and be kind to the un- 
thankful and evil. 

But let us, next, confider the advantage 

of religious wifdom in delivering us from 

3 the 



JVifdom the Strength of the Mind. 105 

the fymptoms of weaknefs arifing from the Serm. 
paffions. The firft I mentioned was igno- IV. 
ranee and confufion ; the underftanding is fo 
darkened that it cannot difcern the way 
we (hould chiife, and form a jufl and deli- 
berate judgment of things, which certainly 
is a great unhappinefs. Now, it is the in- 
valuable advantage of true wifdom, that it 
openeth the eyes, and fetteth things before 
the mind in a clear and full view. 'The tejii- 
mony of the Lord is fure, jnaking wife the 
fwiple^ the commandment of the Lord is pure, 
enlightening the eyes^ PfaLxix. 7,8. What- 
ever difficulty there may appear in the paths 
of virtue to the corrupt and unexperienced, 
they are all plain to him that iinderftandeth, 
and right to them that find knowledge. 
Prov. viii. 9. There is an admirable fim- 
plicity in religion, and the highway of 
holinefs, as the prophet calleth it, Ifa. xxxv. 
8. is fuch that the wayfaring man^ though 
a fool, JJjall not err therein. Whereas the 
ways of fin are crooked and intricate, a man 
eniia^ed in them ftill meeteth with one 
difficulty after another, and vexeth himfelf 
with unprofitable projects, which only tend 
to involve him in farther trouble, Prov. xv, 
J 9. The way of the flothful man is an hedge 

9f 



io6 Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 

Seru, of thorns J (and the cafe is fame of other fin- 
ners wandering in the maze of errors) te 
the way of the righteous is plain. Solomon 
faith, Eccef. ii. 14. A wife man's eyes are in 
his heady but a jool walketh in darknefs. 
And again, chap. x. 2. A wife man's heart 
is at his right-hand^ but a fool's is at his 
left. The vicious diflempered mind is hke 
one without eyes in a rough road full of 
precipices ; irregular paffions millead the 
underftanding, fo that it is at a lofs not know- 
ing what hand to turn to in the greatefl ur- 
gency of affairs, having forfaken the paths 
of truth and judgment. But the underftand- 
ing of the wife difpaflionate man is always 
a ready guide to him, diredling his active 
powers with promptnefs and dexterity. 

In purfuance of this, the man of know- 
ledge increafeth ftrength againft irrefolution, 
unfteadinefs, and precipitancy j his behavi- 
our is confident and uniform, becaufe it is 
conducted by one invariable principle. The 
apoftie reprefenteth it as the happy fruit of 
that perfection to which chriftians arrive by 
the gofpel miniftration, that they are no more 
like children tofj'ed to a?id fro^ ajid carried 
about with every ivind, Eph, iv. 17. As the 
paffions of men naturally make them fickle 

and 



Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 107 

and unflable J true wifdom, which confift- Serm. 
eth in the inaftery of the pafiions, mufl have IV. 
the contrary effe6t j and accordingly you will 
always obferve, that the moft difpaflionate 
men are the mofl conftant 3 for confciencc 
and reafon hold the fovereignty in the foul, 
and their voice is flill the fame. 

Again, as bodily ftrength produceth faci- 
lity and chearfulnefs in adtion, the ftrong 
vuin rejoiceth to run his race, which would 
be a great oppreffion to the weak j the ftrong 
in a religious fenfe, that is, the wife and 
virtuous, rtm in the path of righteoufnefs, 
and do not faint ^ as the prophet f|:>eaketh, 
they walk and are not iveary^ their good 
works are performed with vigor and alacri- 
ty, and their hearts are enlarged to run in 
the of God's commandments. This effedt 
of wifdom Solomon obferveth, chap. iv. 12. 
When thou goefi , thy fleps flmll not be fir ait en^ 
ed, and when thou runneji^ thou fialt not 
fumble » As a man walking in a narrow dif- 
ficult path, or labouring under an incum- 
brance to which his ftrength is unequal, 
findeth himfelf crampt and uneafy, his pro- 
grefs is flow and painful, fo the weak and 
imperfedl in a religious fenfe, prefled down 
by weights, embarrafTed and entangled with 
2 the 



io8 Wifdom the Strength of the Mind, 

S E R M. the fins which eafily befet them, do not run 
the race which is fet before them, but their 
ileps are ilraitened and they often ftumble. 
From thefe inconveniences wifdom is the 
effectual relief J iteftabhfhethandinvigorateth 
the powers of the mind, it enableth the per- 
fon indued with it, to attend his proper 
work with eafe and fatisfad:ion, and to con- 
tinue with patience in well-doing. 

And you may obferve the text faith, the 
man of knowledge increafeth ilrength ; 
though the firft entrance of it maketh a 
great change in the condition and conducft 
of men, and from that time difcretion begin- 
eth to prejerve and undei-Jlanding to keep 
them J as our author obferveth, chap. ii. i o. 1 1 . 
yet it is not perfect at once, but by degrees 
groweth up to maturity, and every ftep we 
advance brings an additional flrength with 
all the comfortable confequences of it, as 
yob faith, chap. xvii. 9. The righteous fiall 
hold on his way^ and they that have clean hands 
beflronger and Jlrofiger. That which com- 
pleteth the benefit of this fpiritual flrength, is, 
that the wife man is confcious of it, and enjoy- 
eth it with pleafure ; not that he proudly valueth 
himfelf upon his flrength, or treats others with 

a fupercilious contempt 5 fuch a temper is far 

from 



IFifdom the Strength of the Mi?id. 1 09 

from a wife man, his humility is a great Serm. 
part of his religion and his flrength j but as IV". 
in the animal nature a found conftitution and 
vio-or is felt by thofe who poflefs it, and it 
produceth eafe and the more comfortable en- 
joyment of life, whereas declining flrength 
is painful and burthenfome to itfelf j fo the 
fenfible fruition of it is infeparable from a 
healthful ftate of the mind, that is, efta- 
bliflied virtue and integrity. 

Having given this account of flrength and 
weaknefs of mind, as they arife from the 
oppofite c^ufes of wifdom, or the prevalence 
of irregular aftedions and pafTions, let us 
apply it to ourfelves, and enquire carefully 
into the flate and temper of our minds. 
Certainly, the enquiry is of great impor- 
tance if \VQ have it at heart to know whe- 
ther wifdom hath enter'd into our fouls, as 
Solomon fpeaketh, and what meafure of it 
we have attained. And though to men un- 
accuflomed to this exercife of communing 
with their own hearts, as the Pfahniji calleth 
it, without which there can be no proficien- 
cy in virtue, it may appear difficult, the difH- 
culty is far from being infuperable, if we could 
but engage ourfelves to a vigorous attention ; 
the objects of enquiry are not diflant remote 
things, but fuch as are known by an inward 

con- 



no Wifdom the Strength of the Mind. 

Se RM. confcioufnefs -, and certainly it is reproachfuf 
for a man to be a ftranger to himfelf and to 
what pafTeth in his own mind. 

Let us, then, try what equanrmiLy wc 
maintain in the changes of life j do our fpirits' 
rife and fall with every varying emergent ? 
Do our fears and hopes, our joys and for- 
rows, depend on the fmiles and frowns of 
this world, fo as in threatning or adverfe 
turns of providence, the underflanding is 
darkened, the counfels are perplexed, courage 
faileth and refolution becometh unftable ? If 
it be fo, the confiitution of the mind is 
weak, and there is a great dcfe<5t of wifdom. 
As I am perfuaded every one who is ac- 
quainted with himfelf will find thefe fymp- 
toms in a degree to be regretted, you may 
fee what the caufe is, and what would be 
the cure. Have we not juil caufe to bewail 
the imperfed:ion of our integrity and all the 
religious virtues ? If by a vigorous zeal and 
conftant diligence in them we were growing 
up from feeble infancy to the flature of per- 
fed: men, we fhould find the advantage of it, 
in a prefence and tranquillity of mind efla- 
blifhed above the reach of time and chance. 
Security and confidence doth fo naturally 
Ipring from virtue, that whoever hath any 

juft 



Wifdo?7i the Strength of the Mind. 1 1 1 

juft fenfe of the one is led to confider the Serm. 
other as its infeparable attendant ; accor- IV. 
dingly, feme of the wifer heathens have ex- 
prefTed themfelves excellently on this fubjed, 
and one of their poets faith, concerning the 
virtuous man, That if the frame of nature 
were difTolved, he would meet its ruins un- 
terrified. But our divine religion explain- 
eth the confidence of a good man very fully, 
and flieweth the true grounds of it, which 
are fo firm and fo clear, that it is unworthy 
of a chriftian, of his privileges, his charac- 
ter, and the vacation wherewith he is called, 
not to retain his confidence^ and the rejoicing 
of his bope^ fl^^dfaji to the end. 

One would think it fufiicient to recom- 
mend true piety and chriftian virtue, if it 
giveth fuch confidence and fecurity of mind 
which is fo very defirable in our prefent 
flate, a flate of difcipline and trial, wherein 
there is much vanity and vexation of fpirit ; 
and, as Solomon obferveth, God hath wifely 
given travel and grief to the children oj men, 
as a part of their portion under the fun. But 
ftill let us remember there is no other foun- 
dation upon which we can be flrong, in 
the fenfe of the text, or attain to firmnefs 
and ferenity of mind, but wifdom, or the 

pracSticc 



112 Wijdom the Strength of the Mind, 

Serm. pradice of pure undefiled religion. There 
iV. are very different courfes taken by men to 
iupport themfelves againfl the viciffitudes of 
time, and the fears and forrows which they 
occafion^ fome have recourfe to fchemes 
and projeds of their own, in order to ob- 
tain reft : If this or the other defign were 
accomphfhed, and fuch an affair fettled, 
then they are fecure : But as it is altogether 
uncertain, whether they fhall ever obtain 
their end 5 fo if they did obtain it, they may 
be never the nearer tranquillity j for the ftate 
of human affairs always is and muft be 
changeable ; fo that the fecurity arifing from 
our own devices, or any imagined outward 
circumftances, is intirely groundlefs. Solo- 
mon maketh a comparifon between wifdom 
and money, as a defence, E^:^/^/. vii. 12. 
and he acknowledgeth they may be both fo 
called. But though money fometimes is a 
means of fafety to the proprietor, it alfo 
fometimes expofeth him to mifchief and 
danger 3 but the excellency of knowledge, 
faith our author, is, that in all events // 
giveth life to them that have it. In pati- 
ence, confidence in God, refignation to his 
will, contracting our defires to the things of 
this world, and the other branches of reli- 



gious 



tVifdo7n the Strength of the Mind. 113 

ctIous virtue, is our only folid peace, astheSERM. 
prophet having reproved the fcws for their IV. 
vain confidence in Egypt for their fafety, ^ 
telleth them, Jfaiah xxx. 15. /« returni?2g 
and reft ye jhall be faved-, in qiiiet?iefs and 
confidence pall be your fir ength. 



Vol. IIL I S E R^ 



[114] 

SERMON V. 

The Favour of G O D obtained by 
Wisdom, 




PROVERBS VIII. 35. 

Whofo Jindeth me Jindeth life^ and jl: all obtain 
favour of the Lord, 

I HAVE, in difcourfing from feveral paf- 
fages of this book, confidered fome of 
the arguments by which the wife man re- 
commendeth religious virtue under the cha- 
rader of wifdom, fuch as the excellency of 
its ways, the pleafantnefs of them, and that 
fecurity and confidence which arifeth in the 
mind of a wife or a good man, from the 
confcioufnefs of his own integrity. Another 
very flrong argument is contained in the 
text, that whofo findeth wifdom findeth life, 
and fhall obtain favour of the Lord. I do 
not think that life here is to be underftood 
in fo narrow a fenfe as to mean only, or 
principally, the continuance of this prefent 
life ; though there are other declarations of 

Soloifiq^ 



The Fa'vour of God obtained by Wifdom, \i^ 

Solomon ill this book, which muft be fo in- Serm, 
tcrpreted, as chap. ix. ii. By me thy days V. 
fiall be multiplied^ and the years of thy lije 
Jhall be increafed. And chap. x. 27. The 
fear of the Lord prolongeth days^ but the 
years of the wicked fiall be Jhortened. Yet, 
confidering that life in this text is not fo 
limited, that often in fcripture it hath a 
larger fignification, and that the words ad- 
ded to explain this advantage of wifdom, 
and fhew the true caufe of it, namely, ob- 
taining favour of the Lord, leads us to more 
important and durable effects than the meer 
lengthening out our prefent ftate of exift- 
ence : Confidering all this, I fay, it feem- 
eth reafonable by life to underfland that 
which indeed is better, and for which life, in 
the firfl and more obvious fenfe, is only va- 
luable, that is, happinefs ; and fo it mufl be 
taken in that faying of our Saviour, Luke 
xii. • 5. The life of a man (or his enjoyment 
and felicity) doth not confjl in the abundance 
of the things which he pojjejfeth. The in- 
tention of this text, then, is to reprefent a 
very great blelTednefs to good men, whether 
in the prefent or a future ftate, annexed to 
wifdom or religious virtue, in confequence 
of their obtaining God's favour. 

I 2 The 



1 16 ^he Favour of God obtained by Wifdom, 
Serm. The great creator of all things hath fo 
V. framed the human nature, that very impor- 
tant confequences in the moll fenfible man- 
ner affedling us, necelTarily refult from our 
own difpofitions, and our courfe of action, 
which fhould reafonably determine us to 
chufe moral good, and efchew evil. And 
this evidently {heweth that man vi^as made 
for virtue, fince by his conftitution he can- 
not be happy without it 5 as in the other 
parts of the creation, from the obvious rela- 
tions and ufes of creatures, we infer the Al- 
mighty Maker's counfel and delign. But 
feeing we are capable of knowing him as 
the free and intelligent ruler of the world, 
and of apprehending his favour and difplea- 
fure towards us according to our works, 
whether this be difcovered by the principles 
of natural religion, or the politive declara- 
tions of his word -, thence diftind: and very 
ftrong arguments are drawn, which fhould 
induce us to chufe the good, and refufe the 
evil 5 for they reprefent him as a lawgiver, 
whofe precepts claim the refpe(5t of his fub- 
ie(5ts, as they are enforced by the promifes 
and threatenings of one who is able to fave 
and to dellroy. Solo?}ion telleth us, chap, 
xxiv. 14, iki2X when lioe have found the know- 
ledge 



T^be Favour of God obtai7ied by Wifdom. i \j 

ledge oj ivifdot7J^ there fiall be a reward y and Serm. 
our expc5intio7i Jhall not be cut off. But here ^• 
he afcertaineth the reward, and mentioneth 
particularly what il is, namely, the favour 
of the Lord. I fhall, 4 

Firfty Endeavour to fhew how great, how 
fubftantial and comprehenfive a felicity 
this is. 

Secondly y The tide which wifdom, or reli- 
gious virtue giveth to it j or upon what 
ground we may exped:, according to 
the declaration in the iext, that if we 
find wifdom, we fliall obtain the favour 
of the Lord. 

p/r/?, To fliow how great, how fubftan- 
tial and comprehenfive a felicity this is. And 
one would think it will be eafily allowed, if 
we confider our mofl obvious notions of the 
Deity ; that idea which all his works, and 
more particularly the holy fcripture, give us 
of him, as a being infinitely perfecft and all- 
fufiicicnt, the fountain of life and of hap- 
pinefs. We judge of the importance of any 
perfon's favour, and of the fecurity and ad- 
vantage which may arife to ourfelves from 
it, by his power and capacity. The defire 
I 3 even 



1 1 8 ^he Favour of God' obtained by Wtjdom, 

S E R M, even of a poor man is his kindncfs^ and ought 
V. to be gratefully acknowledged; but one cannot 
form fuch hopes from it, as from the friend- 
fhip of the great, whofe ' exalted condition 
putteth many things in their power to give, 
which we efteem good for us. Now, if God 
hath the fupreme and abfolute dominion 
over all things; if, as the Pfalmift faith, 
'^PfaL xxxiii. p. He fpake and it "was done^ 
he comvianded and it flood faft. And verfe 
1 1. T^he counfel of the Lord ftandeth for ever^ 
the thoughts of his heart to all generations* 
Then that muiV^e a juft inference, ver. 12. 
Bleffed is the nation whofe God is the Lo? d, 
iind the people whom he hath chcfen for his 
own inheritance. It is impoffible his favou- 
rites fhould be unhappy, becaufe he neither 
wanteth power to effed; what his good-will 
inclineth to, nor wifdom to contrive the 
bell method for their fafety and advantage. 
The account, therefore, which the faints in 
fcripture give of what they call their por- 
tion, the happinefs they chufe, in w^hich all 
their defires and hopes center, as in oppo- 
fition to the very different choices made by 
others ; the accounts, I fay, are very fliort 
indeed, but very full ; the light of God's 
countenance, his blefling, his loving-kind- 

nefs. 



l^he Favour of God obtained by Wifdom. 1 1 9 

nefs. Thefe terms are equivalent, and allSEKM.c 
mean the fame thing which in my text is V. 
called the favour of the Lord^ which good 
men regard as the All of their felicity : If 
they enjoy it, there is nothing wanting to 
them } if they be deprived of it, there is no- 
thing can fupply its place, or afford any true 
confolation. Thofe who are fo unhappy, 
or rather fo foolifh, as to neglect this chief 
good, ftill, however, as their nature unalte- 
rably determineth them, intent upon happi- 
nefs, fall into a great variety of purfuits ; 
they fay, Who will fiew us any good? Pfal. 
iv. 6. Though there are objeds fuitable to 
the inclinations God hath planted in our na- 
ture, and in conferring them upon us the 
liberality of his providence appeareth ; yet 
even fuppofing them fought after, and en- 
joyed without fm, they come fhort of being 
our true felicity, both in the perfedion of 
degree, and in the duration of them. They 
cannot yield folid contentment and fatisfac- 
tion to the mind of man, becaufe they are 
too low in their kind for its high capacity ; 
and they are of a perifliing nature j pleafure 
is but for a feafon, honour only an empty 
fhadow ; nothing can be more variable and 
uncertain than it is ; and riches make them- 

I 4 fives 



120 The Favour of God obtained by Wifdonu 

S ERM, felves wings J and fie c as an eagle towards 
V. heaven. But the favour of God is a fove- 
reign good, and never-failing foundation of 
hope, and fpring of comfort ; it extendetli 
to all poflible cafes, and is a fupport in the 
moll diftreffed fituation of affairs j of which 
we have a remarkable example in the hiftory 
of Jacobs returning from the land of Syria, 
When his family had grov^n to a confider-- 
able number, and his fubltance likewife en- 
creafed in a painful fervice, indeed under a 
long oppreflion, fo as to drawr upon him the 
envy and difcontent of his father-in-law, 
from whom he efcaped with difficulty, . a 
new and a greater danger meeteth him from 
his brother, with whom he had parted on 
ill terms, and expected now the deflrudlive 
effedls of his refentment againft himfelf and 
his defencelefs family. In this great extre- 
mity, having made the beft difpofitions he 
could for faving at leafl fome of his houfe-^ 
hold, laft of all, he betook himfelf to prayer, 
the earneflnefs and importunity of which is 
reprefented by an angel's wreftling with him 
in the likenefs of a man, and the refult was, 
that he obtained a bleffing -, that is, the pro- 
mife of God's fpecial favour, which had 
been, made to Abraham ^nd IJaac, was re? 
3 newed 



The Favour of God obtained by Wifdom. 121 

newed to him. Thtre is no mention oFSerm. 
any particular promife with refpect to the V. 
prefent exigency in anfwer to his prayers, 
that is, that he fliould efcape from Efau ; 
and there was no need of any, for the favour 
of God is in all events fufficient for his fer- 
vants, their rock and refuge in every article 
of danger 3 when that foundation is once 
laid, and an interefl in the loving-kindncfs 
of their God afcertained to them, they are 
fully fatisfied, and reafon with themfelves in 
this manner ; let the appearances be ever fo 
dilmal and (hockino:, our God is able to de- 
liver us j but if he has thought fit to appoint 
otherwife, and that the prefent danger mufl 
put an end to life, flill we are fafe, his fi- 
vour reacheth beyond the line of life, and 
maketh death itfelf our gain. Such hope 
had thofe glorious confefTors for the true re- 
ligion, Shadrack, Mejhach, and Abcdiiego^ 
wherj doomed to a fiery furnace by Nebu- 
cbad?2czzarj and their hope infpired them, 
with heroic refolution, Dan. iii. 16. They 
anfwered, and faid, Nebuchadnezzar, we 
are not careful to anjwer thee in this matter, 
Jf it be foy our God, whom we Jerve, is able 
to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, 
(ind he will deliver us out of thy hand, O 

king. 



122 'The Favour of God obtained by Wifdom, . 

SERM,king, But if not, be it known unto thee, O | 
V, king, we will not ferve thy gods, nor worjhip 
the golden image which thou haji fet up, I 
come, in the 

Second Place, To confider the title which 
wifdom or religious virtue giveth to the fa- 
vour of God, or upon what grounds we 
may exped:, according to the declaration in 
the text, that if we find wifdom, we fhall ob- 
ain favour of the Lord. As I fhewed before, 
lat the perfedion of felicity, and the great- 
lefs of the reward, imported in the favour of 
God, is juflly inferred from his glorious natu- 
ral excellencies, his abfolute dominion and 
power over all things ; fo that the wife, that 
is, the virtuous and the good, are intitled to 
his favour, may be juflly argued from his 
moral attributes. We mufl neceffarily fup- 
pofe that the Supreme Being is infinitely 
good, righteous, and true, and that he ex- 
ercifeth thefe perfcdiions in the government 
of his reafonable creatures- This is proved 
in the fame manner as the exiflence of God, 
and his other attributes, that is, by arguing 
, from eifedts to their caufes, from the exer- 
cife of powers and principles to their being -, 
and from this moft certain truth^ that all 

real 



The Favour of God obtained by Wifdofn, v i: 5 

real and abfolute excellencies muil: belong to S e r m. 
the infinite, unoriginated, and independent V. 
caufe of all things. Every confiderate per- 
fon will find himfelf obliged to acknowledge 
that the moral attributes are real and abfo- 
lute excellencies, moft juftly and worthily 
therefore afcribed to the infinitely perfedl 
Beij\g. Befides, this mufl be allowed to be 
the foundation of true religion, and, there- 
fore, hath been univerfally acknowledged 
wherever it was profefTed or pradlifed ; for 
how can men do any thing that is good out 
of a regard to the Deity, which is the very 
meaning of religion, unlefs they firfl believe 
him to be good, and a lover of virtue ? 

And, indeed, the greateft corruptions of 
religion and morality have taken their rife 
from wrong notions of God. What wonder 
is it, if the worfliippers are mifled to cru- 
elty, lafcivioufnefs, and ambition, if it be 
once believed that the objeds of worfhip 
themfelves are of the fame difpofitions, and 
that wicked pradices are agreeable to them ? 
But if, on the contrary, we are fully con- 
vinced that God is perfectly holy, jufl, be- 
nevolent, and faithful, then we are fur- 
niflied with the ftrongeft motives to prac- 
tice, and to think on the things which are 

fure^ 



124 5^^^ Favour of God obtained by Wifdom, 

S^'RM^purCy and true, and ho?ieJi, and virtuous^ 
V. becaufe we are fure thefe things are approved 
by him. What the fcriptute declareth on 
this fubjedt is perfe<5lly agreeable to reafon, 
for it celebrateth the holinefs and the juftice 
of God, efpecially as manifefted in the di- 
flindtion he maketh between good and bad 
men, PJal. xi. 5, 6, 7. The Lord trieth the 
righteous, but the wicked and him that loveth 
'violence his foul hateth. Upon the wicked he 
Jloall rain fnares, fire, and brimfone, and 
an horrible tempefi ^ this fall be the portion 
of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth 
righteoufnefsj his countenance doth behold 
the upright. And elfewhere we are taught, 
that becaufe he is holy therefore he delight- 
eth in holinefs, he hateth fin, and the evil 
and the vicious are an abomination to him. 

But this is fo evident, I need not fpend 
time in endeavouring to illuflrate it. I (hall, 
therefore, apply myfelf to the conlideration 
of an obvious obbjedion taken from the 
promifcuous adminiftration of things in this 
world. How doth it appear that the wife 
and virtuous obtain favour of the Lord, fince 
his providence doth not diftinguifh them by 
marks of favour ; but, by the confeffion of 
the facred writers themfelves, they are in as 

bad 



The Favour of God obtained by Wijdom, 125 

bad a condition with rcfpedl to the affairs of S e r M. 
this life as the wicked ? Ecclef. ix. i, 2. 'The V. 
righteous, and the wife, and their works y 
are in the hand of God-, no man knoweth 
love or hatred by all that is before him. All 
thifjgs come alike to all-, there is one event to 
the righteous and to the wicked, to the good^ 
and to the clean, and to the unclean ; to him 
that facrificeth, and to him that facrificeth not ; 
as is the good Jo is thefmner, andhethatfwearethy 
as he that fear eth an oath. Nay, it is oftea 
found in experience, that when wickednefs is 
triumphant, and the proud are counted hap- 
py, the moft eminently religious fuffer cruel 
perfecution ; the apoftles were fet forth as 
examples fuffering all manner of adverfity 
and tribulations, counted the ofF-fcourings 
of all things, and the filth of the world. 
This objecflion hath been often advanced 
againft the equity and wifdom of provi- 
dence, and as feeming to prove that the 
affairs of this w^orld are under no intelligent 
direction, but left to blind chance or no- 
ceffity ; and taking it in its whole compafs, 
it would require a large confideration j but 
I (hall at prefent only examine it with 
a view to the point before us, that is, I 
will (hew that it is not conclufive again (1: 

the 



126 ^he Fa'vour of God obtahied by JVifdom. 

SERM.the dodrine of the text, that the wife, or 
V. the religious, obtain favour of the Lord. 

And in the firft place, it is to be obferved, 
that the prefent flate is appointed by the 
wifdom of God to be a flate of difcipline, 
and improvement, wherein, as all men are 
imperfedt in a moral fenfe, fo is their con- 
dition with refped to happinefs, mixed and 
imperfedt j a great deal of what is generally 
accounted affli(3:ion fuch as the inferiority of 
fome men to others in refped: to the advan- 
tages of nature and outward ellate, a mean 
birth, a weak conftitution of body, poverty, 
and other things of a like nature ; a great 
deal of this, I fay, might be refolved into 
the mere fovereignty of the divine dominion. 
There is a vaft variety in the works of God 
even which we fee ; the very kinds of them 
cannot be numbered, and herein doth his 
greatnefs and his wifdom appear. Now, 
furely in difpofing the feveral parts of his 
creation, in fettling the order of his king- 
dom, and affigning their different Nations to 
the fubjeds of his providential rule, the great 
Creator and Governor is not accountable to 
any of his creatures; he doth whatever 
pleafeth him, and who can fay, What dofl 
thou ? Will a man complain that he was not 
made an angel, or a brute that it is not raifed 

to 



T'he Favour of God obtained by Wifdom. 127 

to the dignity of a man ? So in the fame fpe- S e rm. 
cies, as there is wifely appointed an inequa- V. 
lity, we need go no farther than the fame 
fovereign freedom of providence as the 
caufe of it, without any confideration of 
merit in the creatures. In a great houfe, as 
the apoflle faith, 2 T^im. ii. 20. Inhere are 
veffeh of gold and fiher, alfo of wood and 
earth', fome to honour^ and fome to difionour. 
But, indeed, the heft men have fin enough 
to juftify all the feverity they meet with. If 
the moral attributes of God require that a 
very important diftindtion fhould be made 
between bad and good men, which laft cha- 
radter really means no more than the fincere- 
ly though imperfedly religious, it is reafon- 
able to expe<fl there fhould be a difference 
between the latter and the perfedlly inno- 
cent j and fince there is not a jufl man that 
liveth upon the earth and finneth not, the 
providence of God is fufficiently vindicated 
in appointing to all men vexation, and tra- 
vel, and grief, under the fun', which, how- 
ever, when the whole of our exiftence and 
our mofl important interefts are taken into 
confideration, may well be called a light 
afflidlion, and but for a moment. Here it 
is that God vijiteth the faults of his children 

with 



■ 1 2 8 ^be Favour of God obtained by Wifdo7n, 

Se r m. with rodsy and their fms with chajiifement, 
^' yet without taking away his loving kindnefs 
from theniy Pfai.ixxxix. 33. but flill, they will 
acknowledge they are puniflied far lefs than 
their Iniquities deferve ; nay, very often the 
fufFering and afflidiing infirmities of men, 
even of good men, are the natural as well 
as penal confequences of their fin ; and, 
furely, it is not reafonable to expedl that the 
nature and conflitution of things fhould be 
altered to exempt them from troubles which 
they well deferve. 

2dlyy The fufferings of good men in the 
prefent flate may be confidered as trials ; fo 
the fcripture reprefenteth them; and it is 
very confident with the favour of God to his 
fervants that he fhould try them in order to 
their growth in virtue, and fo becoming ftill 
more the objed:s of his favour. We ought 
to be fenfible that religion is the higheft per- 
fection, and continuance and growth in it 
the noblefl enjoyment we are capable of in 
this world, as well as that it is a reafonable 
fervice; and, therefore, the methods of 
providence towards us which have a ten- 
dency to the increafe of virtue are to be ac- 
counted tokens of God's favour rather than 
objedions agalnfl it. iR^i-'. iiic 19. As many 



The Favour of God obtained by Wifdcm. 1 2 9 
m I love, I rebuke and chajlen. On this ac- S e^r m* 
count it is that chriftians are reconciled to 
their prefent fufFering, and even glory in their 
tribulations, becaufe they know that tribula- 
tion worketh patience, and patience experi- 
ence, and experience hope, Rom. v. 3. The 
apoftle James therefore exhorts chriftians to 
count it all joy when they fall into divers tempta- 
tions, knowing that the trial of their faith 
worketh patience, James i. 2. and St. Peter^ 
I Ep. i. 6, 7. faith to the perfecutcd chri- 
ftian Jews, Te greatly rejoice, though ?iow 
for afeafon, if need be, ye are in heavinefs 
through manifold temptatiofis 5 that the trial 
of your faith, being much more precious than 
of gold which perijheth, though it be tried by 
the fire, may be found to praife, and honour^ 
and glory. As God intended that fome of his 
fervants fhould, for his honour, and pro- 
moting the intereft of truth and pure reli- 
gion, be rare examples of thofe virtues which 
efpecially fiiine in tribulation, as patience, 
fortitude, meeknefs, and charity 5 and in- 
tended for them a great reward, it was fit he 
fhould appoint for them a proper fqene 
wherein thofe virtues might be eminently 
difplayed, that is, infirmities, reproaches, 
perfecutions, and diflreftes. 

Vol. III. ^ K ^ But, 



130 T^he Favour of God obtained by Wtjdom, 
Serm. But, in the third place, the perfectly fs- 
Jj^ ^ fyirjg anfvver to the objedion, is, that the 
greatefl diflindion between good and bad 
men is to be made in another flate -, and 
then the reward of the righteous will be fo 
complete as to make amends for all their 
toils and forrows in this world. It is con- 
iiftent with the greatefl love of God to fub- 
jedt his creatures, even though perfectly in- 
nocent, to very grievous fufFerings, when he 
not only hath it in his power, but hath ac- 
tually purpofed and declared it, that he will 
recompenfe them fufficiently by a propor- 
tionably greater felicity afterwards. The 
mofl glorious example of this is our Lord 
Jefii^ Chriflj who though holy, harmlefs, and 
tindefiled, and fepar ate from fmnet's, fufFered 
unutterable griefs, yet without any diminu- 
tion of the Father's love to him, which 
abundantly fhewed itfelf in the fulnefs of 
joy that followed, and his exaltion at the 
right-hand of the majefty on high. Thus 
although good men are obnoxious to many 
calamities in life, it doth not follow, that 
therefore they have not obtained favour of 
the Lord, becaufe the favour of the Lord is 
not a principle which exerteth itfelf necef- 
farily but freely, and the manifeflations of it 

are 



T^he Favour of God ohtahied by WifJom, 131 

are direded by wifdom, choofing the beftSERM. 
time, and the beft manner for making the 
obje<5ts of it happy. 

Hitherto I have gone no further, except 
in mentioning the example of Chrifl, than 
reafon itfelfandthe principles of natural reli- 
gion will dired: us. It muft be confeiTed 
they leave clouds and darknefs upon the fu- 
ture flate, yet not without flrong though 
general intimations of an hereafter, and of a 
retribution to come, which have wonder- 
fully fupported fome great men, even among 
the heathens, in the laft extremity, and the 
agonies of death itfelf. But, now, our 
Lord yefus Chrift hath abolijloed deaths a?id 
brought life and immortality to light, through 
the go/pel y the way is opened into the holie/i 
of all, into heaven itfelf by his blood, fo 
that we have clear and full afTurance, that 
he who findeth wifdom fhall obtain fa- 
vour of the Lord ; for he fhall obtain the 
inheritance y incorruptible, undefiled, and that 
fadeth not away -, that crown of glory, and 
of righteoufnefs, which the righteous judge 
hath promifed to them who love his appear- 
ing, which is the bell and mod complete 
evidence and effed: of the divine favour. 

K 2 ' lies 



132 The Favour of God ohtained by Wifdom. 
S E R M, I fee no reafon why this may not be com- 
^- prehended in the meaning of the text j for 
though the Old Teftament writers fpeak 
but darkly of the future felicity in compari- 
fon of what the gofpel doth, the covenant 
God made with Ifrael being founded on 
other and inferior promifes, yet in thofe 
ancient authors we have fome flrong inti- 
mations concerning it, befides what the 
principles of natural religion fuggefled j you 
know our Saviour argueth convincingly 
againft the Sadduces, who denied that there 
arc any fpirits, and, confequently, that men 
are capable of fubfifting in a future ftate, 
from thefe words of God to Mofes, I am 
the God of Abraham T, of Ifaac^ and of facob. 
Since God is not the God of the dead, but of 
the living, it is a juft inference, that thefe 
eminent patriarchs did not altogether perifli 
when their natural lives ended, but that 
they fubfifted in another ftate, and therein 
enjoyed the moft perfe<ft accomplifhment of 
that glorious promife, that God would be 
their God. Some of the later prophets fpeak 
yet more clearly of the future glory, and 
even of the refurredion of the dead ; and 
iince fo ancient a believer as Job expreffed 
his hope in thefe ftrong terms, / k7iQW that 

my 



^he Favour of God obtaiJicd hy WifiJom. 1-53 
rjjy redeemer liveth, and that he Jhall ftand S'er u. 
at the latter day upon the earth j and though ^. 
after my Jkin worms dejlroy this body, yet in 
7fiy fejh Jhall I fee God, Job xix. 25. It is 
reafonable to tliink that Solotnon alfo under- 
flood it, and that he had it in his view 
when he fpoke of the favour of tlie Lord as 
the full revi^ard of wifdom. 

But however that be, what will moft 
obvioully occur to a chrifllan's thoughts, as 
the compleat reward of religion, and the 
perfedt enjoyment of God's favour, are thofe 
things promifed in the gofpel, which eye 
hath not feen, nor ear heard, nor have entered 
into the heart of man, which God hath laid 
up for them that love him. Let us then, my 
brethren, meditate on thofe excellent defcrip- 
tions which the infpired writers give us of 
the future ftate. They not only afTure us 
that if we be ftedfaji and immoveable, always 
abounding in the work of the Lord, our labour 
Jhall not be in vain \ and that in due time 
we fiall reap, if we faint not : They not 
only reprefent the ftate of the faints after 
death, as perfectly free from- all uneafinefs, 
which is the negative part, yet abfolutcly 
necelliry to felicity, there Jhall be no more 
hunger ^ or thirji, no more for row ^ and figh- 

K 3 ing. 



1 34 ^^^ Favour of God obtained by Wifdom, 
SERM.ingy no more pain-, they not only reprefent 
V. it in fuch general terms as fhew it to be ex- 
ceeding glorious and happy, as when it is 
fet forth under the notion of a kingdom, a 
crown, a royal palace, and building of God ; 
but they explain the particular ingredients 
which, to a ferious compofed mind, muft 
appear the noblefl enjoyments that a rational 
nature is capable of, fuch as the fociety of 
angels, and the perfe6led fpirits of the juft, 
an entire deliverance from temptation and 
iin, the perfedion of knowledge and of 
charity, being like God, and feeing him as 
he is ', and all the blcffed exercifes and frui- 
tions of the foul not to fuffer any abatement 
by its re-union with the body, which in 
the prefent ftate lays fuch weight upon it, 
and cramps its afpiring powers, but as con- 
fummated, rather, at the refurreflion ; the 
body then immortal, and fpiritual, fafhioned 
like unto the glorious body of Jefis Chriji^ 
being every way a well qualified companion 
to the mind in all its high entertainments, 
and fo to continue through all eternity. We 
may conlider, at the fame time, the ftrong 
affurances God hath given his fervants for 
the confirmation of their faith and hope j 
not only we have his faithful word to rely 
3 OA, 



^he Favour of God obtained by Wifdom, 135 

on, but, as the apoftle faith, Heb. vi. 17, 18. Serm. 
Betjig willing more abundantly to Jhcw unto V. 
the heirs of promife the immutability of his 
counfl^ he C07ifirmed it by an oath ; that by 
two immutable things^ in which it is impcff^ 
ble for God to lye, we might have fir ong con- 
folation^ who have fed for refuge to lay hold 
on the hope fet before us. 

I fliall now, in conclufion, only make 
two pra(5tical refledlions on what hath been 
faid. Firft^ we may fee what is the nobleft 
end of life, the worthieft of our affedlions, 
our choice, and of our moil diHgent and 
conftant endeavours, that we may attain it. 
If life be in the favour of God, \i his lovi?jg- 
kindnefs be better than life^ and imports in it 
fo many and great bleflings, then it is cer- 
tainly reafonable for us to purfue it by all 
methods in our power, and in preference 
to all other things. Men can never be juf- 
tified to themfelves, nor have inward peace 
in fuch a wrong choice and courfe of adlion, 
as feeking thofe things which are mean and 
unworthy, in comparifon, and negledting that 
which mull; appear to themfelves bell:. Thus 
the prophet prefTeth finners, and it might 
be thought any one would eafily apprehend 
K 4 fclie 



:k 'j6 ^he Favour of God obtained hy Wifdom. 
Serm. the juftnefs and the force of his reafoning, 
V. Ifaiab \v. 2, 3. Wherefore do ye fpend your 
money for that which is not bread f and your 
labour for that which fatisfieth not f Hearken 
diligently unto me^ and eat ye that which is 
goody and let your foul delight itfelf in fat- 
nefs y incline your ear to me^ and come j hear^ 
and your foul Jhall live. And, to the fame 
purpofe, our Saviour, John vi. 27. Labour 
7iot for the meat which perifeth, but Jor 
that which endureth to everlajting life-, which 
the Son of Maji fkall give unto you^ for him 
hath God the Father fealed. It is very ftrange 
that human nature fhould be fo infatuated, 
fo loft to its true intereft, and the proper 
ufe of its higher powers, as to be led en- 
tirely by fenfe, and give itfelf up to the di- 
rediion of appetites and pafhons ; VN'hich up- 
on the leaft conlideration muft appear to be 
the lower part, and far from the principal 
end of our being. Yet fo it is, that many 
men, even chriftians, are governed by their 
brutifh inclinations, and aim at nothing 
higher than gratifying them : But befides 
that this is moft unreafonable and unwor- 
thy of men, it, is diredly contrary to the 
profefTion of religion, the proper end of 
which is to obtain the favour of the Lord. 

2dly, 



I'he Favour of God obtained by Wijdom. 137- 
idly^ The way to obtain this end is plain- S e R m. 
ly marked out to us in fcripture, particularly V. 
in this Text ; and it is very inexcufable folly 
and thoughtlefnefs if we miftake it. Suppo- 
fing men to have a general perfuafion that the 
favour of God is of the greateft confequence 
to them, and they cannot be happy without 
it, yet ftill an attachment to their fins mif- 
ieads them another way, that is, they flat- 
ter themfelves that it is poffible to obtain it 
without reforming their lives. How many 
are there who prefume in their hearts that 
they are the favourites of God, though they 
go on in their finful courfes, and harden 
themfelves more and more in their vices ? 
To what caufe can this be attributed, or 
what are the pretences by which men pro- 
fefling religion thus fatally deceive them- 
felves ? Indeed the very profeffion of reli- 
gion itfelf deceives them, though it is very 
furprizing that it fliould. Thus the ^ews^ 
becaufe they were the people of God, in 
covenant with him, the poflerity oi Abra- 
ham^ and of IJraelj and becaufe they con- 
ftantly performed the outward rites of wor- 
fiiip which he appointed, therefore imagined 
they were in a good flate towards God j 
though the prophets often reprefcnted to 

them 



138 T^he Favour of God obtained by Wifdom. 

Serm. them the vanity of fuch pretences, which 
V. were refuted by many plain inftances de- 

^"•^"'T'^ monftrating that God had no regard to them. 
Their own hiftory {hewed that though he 
brought their fathers out of Egypt with a 
ftrong hand, and they did eat fpiritzial meat^ 
and drank fpirittial drink^ yet with many of 
them he was not well pleafed. He afterwards 
forfook Shiloh, the tent which he placed 
with men; and the ark of the covenant in 
which they trufted for their defence, was 
taken into captivity, the temple itfelfwas 
burned ; and the laft fatal cataftrophe of the 
yewifi nation demonflrated that the favour 
of God is not annexed to the greateil out- 
ward privileges, lince even they may come 
fhort of it, whofe are the father s^ afid the 
giving of the Laws, a?id the fervice of Gody 
and the promifcs. After fuch examples, 
fhall we vainly imagine that any external 
privileges, profeffions, or ads of devotion, 
will entitle us to the divine acceptance ? Our 
blefled Saviour hath taken much pains to 
guard his difciples againft fuch a pernicious 
error ; he hath expreflly aflured us, that if 
/ we fhould fay to him at the laft day, have 
we not eaten and drank in thy prefence, pro- 
phefied in thy jzame, and in thy name have caft 

out 



rbe Favour of God obtained by Wifdom. 1 39 
cut drcih, and in thy name have done many^.^u. 
wonderful mrh ? His anfwer will be, Ine- ■ 
ver knew you, depart from me, ye that -work 
iniquity, Mat. vii. 2*2. 



SER- 




[ 140 ] 

SERMON VL 

Lo N G-L I F E, R I c H E s J and Honour, 
' the Fruits of WISDOM. 

PROVERBS III. i6. 

Length of days is in her right-hand, and in 
her left-hand riches and honour. 

ANY and great are the advantages 
which Solomon attributeth to wifdom 
or religious virtue, thereby recommending 
it to our choice. It muft be acknowledged 
that thofe mentioned in the text are of the 
lowefl kind, and fo they will always appear 
to a mind well inflrud:ed, and which hath 
a true talle of real excellence. The plea- 
fures of felf- approbation, the inward tranr. 
quiUity of foul, which arifeth from the tefli- 
mony of an unreproaching heart, fupporting 
it in all events, and a fenfe of the favour of 
God, are enjoyments of a far fuperior na^ 
ture, as well as more durable, than the 
longefl:, and moft profperous, and honour- 
able life which can be hoped for in this 
3 world. 



Long-Lifcy Riches y and Honour, &c/ 141 

world. Yet, fince length of days, riches, Serm. 
and honour, are infifted on by the infpired ^ ^^^ 
writers as the effects of wifdom, it will be 
very proper for us to confider them in that 
view i and we fliall find that, at leaft, reli- 
gion hath not, generally fpeaking, fuch a 
tendency to diftrefs, mifery, and dishonour, 
even in this life j and, on the contrary, that 
irreligion and wickednefs is not fuch a fure 
way to become rich and great, as many are 
apt to imagine, who, it is certain, govern 
themfelves by fentiments entirely oppofite to 
thofe of Solomon -, and the very reafon why 
they chufe the ways of injuftice, difhonefty, 
and vice, is, becaufe, poftponing the concerns 
of their fouls and of eternity, they hope 
thereby to fecure and to promote their pre- 
fent interefts, which are higher in their 
efteem. 

To explain the dodlrine of the text, and 
prevent miftaken notions concerning it, I 
muH: obferve that there is a great difference 
between the Old Teftament and the New, 
withrefped to tlie motives by which religi- 
ous virtue is feverally enforced in them ; and 
the alTertion of our author might be pro- 
nounced by him in another fenfe, and on 
other accounts than it can be now according 

to 



142 Lofig-Hfcy RicheSy and Honour y 

Serm. to the gofpel. It is certain that by the co* 
VI. venant God made with the people of Ifraely 
and that is the foundation the Old Tefta- 
ment writers go upon in their dodrine; 
there was an eftablifhed connexion between 
obedience and outward profperlty ; the land 
of Canaan^ and an undiilurbed fafety In it, 
with fuccefs againft their enemies who 
ihould at any time invade them j thefe blef- 
£ngs were politively promlfed to that na- 
tion, upon the condition of their keeping 
God's law. Accordingly we find in their 
hiftory, that whenever they declined to ido^ 
latry and other fins, defolating judgments 
brake in upon them, their enemies trium- 
phed, their country was wafted, and they 
were brought into bondage. On the other 
hand, no fooner they repented, returned to 
their God and to their duty, reformed their 
manners, and pradlfed piety and righteouf- 
nefs, than immediately there was a change 
in the ftate of their affairs, which prefently 
were in a fiourifliing condition, their adver- 
faries fell before them, their loffes were re- 
paired, and God eflabiiflied them In the 
quiet pofTeflion of the promifed land. And 
as thefe were the meafures conftantly and 
uniformly kept with the whole nation, the 

conduct 



the Fruits of Wifdom. 143 

condu6l of providence towards particular S e r M. 
perfons was, not always, but for the moft 
part, agreeable to them The mofl righte- 
ous men, and of the mofl exemplary lives 
for piety and virtue, were profperous, and, 
according to the declaration in the text, had 
length of days, riches, and honour. Abra^ 
ham, from a fmall beginning, grew to a 
great eflate ; Jacob alfo, Jojeph, Job, MofeSy 
David, 'Daniel, and others, men of the 
moft diftinguiftied worth, and the moft il- 
luftrious characters we meet with in the Old 
Teftament hiftory ; though fome of them 
had very grievous trials, (as the whole Ifra^ 
elitijh nation had, which is not inconfiftent 
with the promife of external profperity made 
to them, lince that was the event) yet, in 
the main, their lives were rather happy than 
afflided, and the difficulties they met with 
in the beginning ended in their profperity. 

But the New Teftament differeth from 
this very widely, both in its general decla- 
rations, and the inftances of fad: which its 
hiftory containeth. Our Lord aftureth his 
difciples, all who v/ill embrrxe his religion, 
and fubjed: themfelves to his rules, that they 
muft exped tribulation, and through it en- 
ter into the kingdom of God : He requireth 

of 



144 Long-life^ Riches, and Honour, 

Serm. of them, as the very condition of their be- 

VI. ing his approved followerSj and entitled td 
his favour, that they fhould reiign and be 
ready to forfake (hating in comparifon) all 
their worldly intercfts. So that length of 
days, riches, and honour, inftead of being 
promifed as the revi^ards of chriftianity, in 
fome cafes, muft be renounced by all the 
fervants and difciples of Jefus Chrift. And 
then, for particular inflances in hiflory, fo 
far as the fcripture bringeth it dov^^n, they 
are perfedlly agreeable to thefe general de- 
clarations. No one of the apoftles (and 
theirs are the moil eminent charad:ers for 
religious wifdom ) lived in any external 
fplendor 5 on the contrary, they vi^ere tried 
with continual afflid:ion, perfecutions, re- 
proaches, and diftrelTeSj and approved them* 
felves to God and to the churches as faith- 
ful minifters, in labours, imprifonments, pe- 
rils, failings, troubles of various kinds, po- 
verty, and all manner of ill ufage in the 
world, inftead of riches and honour. 

There feemeth to be an objedion againft 
this, elpecially from two expreffions in the 
New Teftament ; the one is that of our Sa- 
viour, Matt. vi. 33. Seckfirfl the kingdom of 
God and his right eoufnefs, and all ihefe things 

(the 



the Fruits of Wifdorn. 145 

the things of this world, from an anxiety S e r M. 
about which hfe had been difTuading them) VI. 
y7W/ be added unto you. The other is, i Tim. 
iv. 8. Godlifiefs is pf-ojitahle unto all things^ 
having the promife of the life that how isy 
and of that which is to come. 

For the firft, it is plain our Lord's defign 
is to {hew the folly of an inordinate careful- 
nefs, not about abundance of worldly things, 
outwafd fplendor, and gr^at wealth, but the 
necefTaries of life, what we fliall eat and 
drink, and wherewithal we fhall be cloathed. 
The promife therefore muft be tinderftood 
to extend no farther than to anfwer the 
intention of fuperfeding our thbughtfulnefs 
about thefe needful things, encouraging us 
to truft chearfully in the bounty of provi- 
dence, for fupplying us with them, and it 
doth not reach to honour and riches ; and 
yet even in that limited fenfe, we muft not 
conceive of it inconfiftently with the whole 
current of the gofpel docSlrine, which requi- 
reth a refignation of our very lives, and a 
readinefs to part with them for the honour 
of God, and to preferve a good confcience. 
As to the other text, i ^im. iv. 8. it feem- 
eth to mean, that in the practice of true re- 
ligion we may hope that, ordinarily, God*^ 
gracious care will be employed for our fup- 

Vol, hi, L port 



146 Long-life, Riches, and Honour, 

S E R M. port and prefervation. In the 9th and i oth 
VI. verfes the apoftle adds, "This is a faithful 
faying, and worthy of all acceptation, for 
therefore we labour and fuffer reproach, be- 
caufe we trufi in the living God, who is the 
Saviour of all men, efpecially of them that 
believe j plainly enough intimating that we 
are not to exped an exemption from trou- 
bles, or to enjoy a life of external eafe and 
fplendor ; for he faith expreilly, we labour 
end fuffer reproach ; but only that God, 
whofe providence preferveth the lives of all 
men, taketh a fpecial care of fincere chri- 
ftians. But that outward profperity is not 
intended to be the reward of religion, and 
that the promife of it is not the fan^ftion of 
the law of faith, or of chriflianity, but the 
promife of eternal life, is evident, becaufe 
there is no neceffary connexion between the 
condition and the promife. No man who 
rightly underflandeth, and ferioufly conli- 
dereth the ftrain of the New Teftament, 
and withal refled:eth on the general courfe 
of providence which in this point explaineth 
it, can believe that riches and honour are 
annexed to the exercifc of godlinefs as the 
proper recompence of it ; for then they 
ought to follow it conftantly, and uniform- 
ly, and in exad proportion, which it is cer- 

taia 



the Fruits of Wifdom: W 

tarn they do nots as the bleffednefs of the S er m; 
future ftate is always awarded by the Lord, 
the righteous judge, to them who feek it by 
patieru continuance in well-doing, and who 
love his appearing. 

But though what hath been faid on this 
fubjea: is ftriaiy true, and it was neceffary 
to obferve it, that we may rightly under- 
hand the fcriptures, and kndw upon what 
foot religion ftandeth according to the gof- 
pel ; nay, even under the Old Teftament it- 
felf,' the promifes of profperity to good men 
were not to be taken fo abfolutely, but that 
the cafe of perfecutioii was always to be ex- 
cepted, which fometimes proved (o violent 
a temptation to the beft men, as to fhock 
them in the belief of the reality and advan- 
tage of religion, which we find was the 
cafe of the Pfalmift, the prophet Jere?niah, 
and others : Notwithftanding all this, if we 
obferve the ordinary methods of divine pro^ 
vidence, and the general courfe and flate of 
things, with their connexion and dependence 
m this world, we (hall find that, for the 
moft part, the pradice of the chriftian vir- 
tues hath a tendency even to our outward 
advantage, and to promote our prefent in- 
tereft, rather than the contrary. The ob- 
fervation holdeth more univerfally with re- 
L 2 fpe^ 



1^8 hong-life i Riches ^ and Honour y 

Serm. fpe£l to communities, fome of which have 
VI- rifen from very fmall beginnings, to great 
and pov^erfiil nations, by induftry, fruga- 
lity, the exad: diftribution of juflice, iideHty, 
and other virtues ; as, on the other hand, 
the hiflory of all ages iheweth, that the moil 
opulent and flouriihing kingdoms have been 
precipitated into ruin, by avarice, oppref- 
iion, luxury, and injuftice. So true is that 
proverb of Solotnon's, that righteoufnefs exalt- 
etb a nation^ but Jin is the reproach of any 
people. 

But, though in the cafe of private per- 
fons, the diftincftion is not often fo remark- 
able between the good and the bad, in the 
prefent adminiilration of providence, the 
righteous and the wicked being involved in 
the fame common calamities, and the for- 
mer fometimes fuffering by the vices and 
the cruelties of the latter, which God doth 
jiot interpofe to reftrain, intending to fet all 
things right, which feem now irregular, in 
a future ilate of retribution ^ yet, bad as the 
world is, wifdom is better than folly, and 
men, generally fpeaking, make their way 
in it to all the happinefs it affordeth, by 
fobriety, godlinefs, and righteoufnefs, much 
better than by a courfe of iniquity and vice ; 
which I fliall endeavour, in the remaining. 

part of this difcourfe,. to illuftrate. 

2 The 



the Fruits of P/ifdom. 1 49 

The firft, of wifdom's gifts reprefented as"^^^^- 
in her right hand, whereby is fignified its ^^ * 
being principal in its kind, and preferable to 
other temporal advantages, is, length of days. 
Life muft be allowed more valuable than 
any of the various enjoyments of this world, 
becaufe it importeth the capacity, and is the 
foundation of them all. Death puts an end 
to all our pleafures, gains, and honours j 
the rich and the poor, the great and the 
fmall, lie down together in the filcnt grave j 
and with enjoyment, the diffolution of life 
concludes our hopes and projedls ; Job xvii. 
1 1 . My days are paji^ viy purposes are broken 
cff", even the tlmights of my heart. And ver. 
1 5. And ii'here is noiv my hope f as for my 
hope^ ivhof'allfee it? So that if there be 
any thing here worthy of our efteem and 
our choice, any advantage which we would 
defire to continue pofTelTed of, or any change 
for the better to be expected, length of days 
is to be valued in the fiiil: place. I would 
not be underftood to raife the value of lite 
fo, that we fhould be exceffively fond of it, 
than which nothing can be more dangerous 
to integrity, and even to happincfs, for it 
often betrayeth men into the moft unwor- 
thy ad:ions, and layeth a foundation for the 
greatell miferies they can fuftcr, in the per- 
L 3 petual 



'150 Long-life, Riches y and Honour-y 

Se R M. petual diflra6ling fears and difcontent of their- 
VI. own minds : But it is certain Solomon judg-^ 
eth rightly, when he placeth it in the right 
hand of wifdom, for it muft have the pre-, 
ference of riches and honour, though not 
of an approving confcience j and efpeciallyj 
if the prefent be coniidered as a ftate of pre- 
paration for eternity, wherein we have the 
opportunity and the means of providing for 
an unchangeable hereafter, fuch a duration 
of life, in which that great work may be 
brought to a happy conclufion, muft be ac- 
counted by us a great bleffing ; and, gcne-^ 
rally fpeaking, I do not fay always, length 
of days is upon this account deiireable. 

But, that a religious or a virtuous courfe 
of life naturally tendeth to prolong our days, 
we may be convinced by experience. If 
we compare the ftate of mankind at diffe- 
rent tirnes, I mean with refped to health 
and longevity, we fhall find that always, in 
thofe nations and ages wherein regular vir- 
tue was moll prad:ifed, nature itfelf was in 
the greatefl vigour, and life drawn out to 
the longefl period. Whereas vice, and a 
licentious difTolution of manners, conflantly 
corrupted the ftrain, bringing on a multi- 
tude of mortal difeafes, which fhorten the 
days of men, rendering their condition un-? 

happy. 



the Fruit i of Wifdom, 151 

happy, and with life itfelf are propagated Serm. 
to wretched pofterity. The virtuous fim- VI. 
plicity of the firft ages may be one reafon 
why the patriarchs were fo long-hved j and 
the abounding of wickednefs in their dege- 
nerate offspring is one great caufe why the 
term of hfe is fo lliortened, and the vigour 
of the human conftitution fo remarkably im- 
paired. If we defcend to the particular 
branches of wifdom, or the particular vir- 
tues, we may eafily fee the eminent influ- 
ence which fome of them have on the pre- 
fervation of life, and the unhappy tendency 
of the contrary to its deftrudion. 

Temperance, in particular, doth very 
much contribute to health and long-life j 
and the immoralities oppofite to it, are the 
occafion of many diftempers which have 
raged among mankind, and daily bring mul- 
titudes to the grave. Debauchery, glut- 
tony, drunkennefs, luxury, lafcivioufnefs, 
all contrary to fobriety, which confifleth in 
the due government of the carnal appetites, 
make life fo feeble and joylefs as it is in many 
men, and bring them in crouds to an un- 
timely end, 

Meeknefs and patience, likewife, are vir- 
tues which concur to the producing of the 
fame happy effe^^ ; as they controul and re- 

L A ftrain 



152 Lo7ig-life^ Riches, and Honour ^ 

Serm. flrain anger and <ftll the difagreeable paflions 
VI» it comprehendeth, whereby life, when they 
prevail, is rendered uncomfortable and even 
pineth away. We fee that people of choleric 
ind peevifh tempers not only are eftranged 
from joy, the ferenity and peace of the mind 
is broken, but thofe inward diftempers prey 
upon the very vitals, and the body itfelf 
languifheth by their pernicious influence. It 
is obferved in the facred hiflory, that Mofes 
preferved a wonderful meafure of health and 
vigor in a very advanced age. When he 
was one hundred and twenty, his natural 
force was not abated, though at that timq 
the age of man was reduced to the ftandardi 
which ftill continueth, of feventy years, as 
appeareth by the 90th Pfalm of which he? 
was the author. And though it mufl be 
acknowledged that being a perfon of fo 
great eminency, fo ferviceable to God, and 
ufeful to the IJraelites his peculiar people, 
the prolonging of his life may well be at- 
tributed to a fpccial providence, yet we may 
veafonably apprehend that natural caufes con<- 
curred to the fame end, and particularly, 
that his very uncommon equanimity and 
good temper, never ruffled with paflion, 
had a fliare in bringing him to fuch an eafy 
and happy old age 3 for tliis was his charac- 

ter^ 



the Fruits of Wijdom. 153 

tcr, Num. xii, 3. That he was very meek Serm, 
above all the men which were upon the face VI. 
of the earth. And in lower inflances, where 
nothing miraculous can be pretended, it is 
known in experience that a ferene difpafTionate 
mind contributeth very much to the prefcr- 
ving a firm and healthful habit of body. 

It is alfo worthy of our obfervation under 
this head, that benevolence and the fecial 
virtues comprehended in it tend to fecure life 
againft that foreign violence to which the 
unjuft, the cruel, and the inhumane, are 
obnoxious. It is certain that, next to the 
providence of God, the greateft fecurity of 
our being in this world againft external dan-« 
gers is in the good will and kind offices of 
our neighbours -, as the greateft hazard arifeth 
from them, if they are ill affedted towards 
us. Men in a regular fociety and in peace, 
are the guardians of each others fafety, and 
their united afFed:ions are their common de- 
fence ; as, when it is otherwife, they arQ 
the mofl: dangerous enemies to one another. 
Now, what is it that will mofl: effedually 
procure the good-will and efleem of men, 
and confequently fcreen our lives againft any 
danger from their injuries ? Certainly, the 
pradlice of the focial virtues. A man who 
is known by the general tenor of his life and 

adtions 



*154 Long-life^ Riches, and Honour , 

SeRM. adions to be juft and faithful, honcft and 
VI. beneficent, will have the efleem and love of 
all who have not divefled themfelves of hu- 
manity, and are not under the power of 
ftrong prejudices or irregular paffions ; and 
confequently hath great advantages for his fafe- 
ty, to which the world about him will think, 
themfelves obliged to contribute as far as 
they can. The Pfalmift faith Pfal. Iv. 23. 
bloody and deceitful men Jhall not live out half 
their days. This, as it may be afcribed to the 
juilice of divine providence, which, though: 
it doth net fully I'ecompence good and evil in 
this world, yet, being the guardian of human 
fociety, often interpofeth topunifh and reftrain 
thofe particular evils which are deil:rud:ive to 
mankind ^ fo in their own nature the crimes 
of fuch men tend to fliorten life, by awaken- 
ing the juflice and even the paffions of men 
againft the guilty. 

The fecond gift of wifdom mentioned in the 
text is riches, which it is natural enough 
for men to defire, indeed to an extreme ; 
fome with one view fome with another. 
There are many who have their hearts im- 
moderately fet on riches, and labour incef- 
fantly to obtain them, only as the means of 
ambition and luxury, or what they call living 
well, by which really is meant no more than 

having 



the Frmts of W{fdom. 155 

having it in their power to gratify their fen- S e R M. 
faal inclinations. There are but very few in ^ V L 
comparifon, who covet wealth for its own 
fake, and heap up treafures only to behold 
them with their eyes, as Solomon fpeaketh 
clfewhere, or to enjoy the fordid pleafure of 
poiTeffing them without any regard to their 
ufe, which is the fpirit and character of a mifer. 
Men have generally an eye to fome future 
ufe of their riches, and indeed not only to 
themfelves but others, though very often the 
purfuit of them is attended with a finful an- 
xiety, with a narrow felfiih fpirit, and both 
the purfuit, and pofleffion accompanied with 
an undue confidence in them, and a haughty 
contempt of thofe, it may be, of greater 
merit, who are in a lower condition. 

Thefe are the abufes of wealth ; but wc 
may confider it in another view, and fuch 
a one, as it may well be attributed to the 
bounty of providence and lawfully fought 
after ; that is, firft, as the means of living 
cafy, and enjoying the comforts of this 
world with moderation. Nature teacheth, 
and religion doth not forbid it, that wc 
fhould endeavour to render our condition ia 
this world tolerable, to be above penury and 
pinching wants j not above the need of ho- 
neft indultry and frugality, which is really 
4 a vir- 



1^6 Long-/(fe^ Riches^ and Honour, 

Serm. a virtue, and very fuitable to the prefent 
VI. ftate of men, v^^hatever their ftation and 
circumftances ia life be ; but above that 
contempt which generally attendeth ab- 
jedl poverty, and thofe temptations to vi^hich 
many are expofed by it, according to Agur\ 
prayer, Frov. xxx. 9. That I may not be 
poor^ and/leal, and take the Name of God in 
vain. But efpecially, vi^ealth may be valued 
as the means and the ability of doing good 
in a religious and moral Senfe j of juftice, 
and promoting the interefl of truth and vir- 
tue, of beneficence and compaffion, reliev- 
ing the neceffities of the poor, and in many 
refpeds of being profitable to men. Riches, 
then, are in their own nature indifferent, 
capable of being ufed, and in fa(5t they are 
ufed, either to good or bad purpofcs j and 
fince they have an aptitude to the former as 
well as the latter, it is no diihonour to wif- 
dom to place them in her gift, though a 
left-hand gift, as Solomon exprefi*eth it, and 
of an inferior nature. 

But the queftion is concerning the tenden- 
cy of virtue to the acquifition of wealth. Let 
it fi:ill be remembered that this is not the 
principal advantage of religion, nor at all 
the proper reward of it from the hand of 
the great judge in purfuance of his promifes 

or 



the Fruits cfWifdom. 157 

or declared rule of proceeding with his fer- S e R m. 
vants and followers 5 there is therefore no VI. 
necellary connexion between virtue and 
riches, which are not always to men of un- 
derjianding^ as Solotmn obferveth, Ecclef. ix. 
1 1, nor indeed to the beft men ; fometimes 
the ungodly profper in the world, and in- 
creafe in riches, as the Pfalmifl faith, and 
maketh it the fubjed: of a grievous com- 
plaint, PfaL Ixxiii. 7. Thei?- eyes Jiaiid out 
with fatnefs, they have more than their heart 
could wijh ', yet, generally fpeaking, and in 
the ordinary courfe of things, virtue is the 
furefl way of thriving in this world, which 
may be thus accounted for. 

We find by experience that men ordina- 
rily acquire riches by their parliv'.iony, their 
induftry, and their credit 3 now, to ^11 thefe 
the moral virtues comprehended in wifdom 
are eminently ferviceable. Firft, men grow 
rich by fparing, by avoiding extravagant and 
confuming expences, by living within their 
eftates, fo as their incomes or ordinary ac- 
quifitions, the fruits of their induftry, ex- 
ceed their confumption ; for the contrary 
mull: tend to poverty. But the natural ef- 
fed: of temperance, chaftity, humility, is to 
retrench a great many exorbitancies : Wheij 
men, by the diredion of thefe virtues, have 

formed 



I5S Long-life, Riches, and Honour, 

Serm. formed the difpofitions of their minds, arid 
VI. by their influence have learned moderation, 
to be content with a Httle, and to deny the 
pomp of lifej and that falfe appearance of 
greatnefs, which is imagined to be in fump-* j 
tuous living, this mufl of courfe cut off a 
great deal of expence, vvhich the pride, and 
vanity, and luxury of others maketh them 
liable to. Solomon fays, Trdv. vi. 26. By 
means of a whorijh woman a man is brought 
to a piece of bread-, and, in chap^ xxix. 3. 
Me that keepeth company with harlots fpend' 
eth his fubjiance. And it is certain that 
gluttony, drunkennefs, and the pride of life, 
the affeding an unneceffary fhew of magni- 
ficence and grandeur, which are all contrary 
to virtuous wifdom, muft have the fame 
effedl. There is, it is true, a fordid parfi- 
tfnony, which is itfelf a vice; and a with-^ 
holding more than is meet, which as it tend- 
eth to poverty, fo is altogether inconfiftent 
with charity ; but true virtue avoideth both 
extremes, the abje6l meannefs of the cove- 
tous, as well as the foolifh expenfivenefs qf 
the prodigal. 

Again ; diligence Is necefl'ary to the ac- 
quiring of riches. Our author's obfervation 
is, Prov, X. 4. He becometh poor that dealeth 
viith a flack hand, but the hand of the dili-^ 

gent 



the Fruits of Wifdom. 1 59 

gent maketh rich j and, in his account, dill- Serm, 
gence is a part of wifdom. He infifteth a 
great deal in this book on the evil of lloth, 
and particularly flieweth its tendency to po- 
verty 'y which indeed is too plain both from 
reafon and experience to need any illuftra- 
tion ; but at the fame time reprefenteth floth 
as folly, as in itfelf very linful, and direftly 
contrary to what virtue would incline men 
to. It is the reproach of a reafonable na- 
ture, a negledl of the talents, the active 
powers and opportunities God hath given, 
for our improvement of which we are ac- 
countable to him, and upbraided even by 
the brute kinds, which in their narrow 
fpheres are induflrious to anfwer their pro- 
per ends of life. 

'T^dly, Confidering men as in civil foclety, 
and having traffick and commerce with one 
another, mutual confidence is of great ad- 
vantage for their getting riches. As indu- 
ilry and the diligent improvement of the 
fubftance one hath in his hands, or his abi- 
lity, of whatever kind it is, is the only or- 
dinary means of becoming rich ; he who is 
trufted hath the advantage of improving up- 
on another's flock as if it were his own j 
but what is it that procureth fuch credit ? 
Certainly the reputation of virtue, of juflicc, 

honefty 



i6o Lon^-life^ Riches, and Honour ^ 

Serm. honefty, and fidelity. It is true, fomething 

VI. elfe is neceflary to what is commonly called 
credit, that is, the opinion of a man's hav- 
ing a fund or ability to difcharge the obli- 
gations he is under in point of right and 
property 5 for the want of ability, as well as 
of honefly, may be the occafion of his fail- 
ing in'it ; but then there muft neceflarily be 
an opinion of his integrity; and what can 
eftablifh that opinion, and fuch a charadtcr 
in the world, but a virtuous courfe of life, 
pradlifing conftantly the things which are 
honed, juft, and true ? 

And, in the laft place, honour is beflowed 
by wifdom, or is the efFe(5l of virtue. Ho- 
nour fignifieth that efteem, with the out- 
ward tokens and expreffions of it, which 
men have in the world 3 and it may be con- 
fidered as flowing from external advantages, 
particularly riches and power; for from 
thefe inequalities of condition, which afFedl 
civil fociety, efpecially power, arifeth a di- 
ftindlion of refped: ; and in this fenfe the 
tendency of virtue to honour may be illu- 
ftrated the fame way as its tendency to 
riches ; that is, honour is procured by the 
fame means by which this ordinary fource 
of it is procured, namely, by frugality, by 
diligence 5 for, fayeth Solomon^ Prov. xii. 24. 

The 



the Fruits of TVifdom. i6i 

^'bt hand of the diligent JJjall bear rule^ but S e r M. 
the Jlothful fiall be under tribute. And chap. VI. 
xxii. 29. Seefi thou a man diligent in his bu- 
fmefs, he jhall jland before kijigs, he fiall 
not Jland before ?nea?i men -, and by a repu- 
tation for juflice, generofity, and other vir- 
tues : Still underflanding this not as infallibly 
certain, or as if it were fecured by the fanc- 
tion of the divine laws, like the future re- 
ward ; fometimes we fee, on the contrary, 
the wicked great in power, and the vilefl of 
men exalted, furrounded with the applaufes 
and acclamations of an ignorant and vicious 
multitude, as perfons of the fame charadter 
acquire great riches : But it is not always fo ; 
and in the nature of things, and ordinarily, 
wifdom or virtue is as profitable and likely 
a means for thefe purpofes, as any other, 
and more ; nay, it is plain, that often men, 
really the moil corrupt, find themfelves 
obliged to put on the appearance and dif- 
guife of virtue, of fobriety, of juftice, and 
honefty, in their way to riches and honour. 

But in another fenfe honour is the more 
certain effed: of wifdom or religious virtue, 
becaufe virtue itfelf maketh the very cha- 
rader which is honourable, or the fubjedl 
of efleem ; for men are necelfarily deter- 
mined to approve moral goodnefs wherever 

Vol. III. M they 



1 62. Lofig-Iife, Riches, and Honour , 

S E R M. they fee the genuine difcoveries of it, and 
VI. negleding the dazzHng kiftre and badges of 
external grandeur, they cannot help having 
in their heart a veneration for the man who, 
by the whole courfe of his behaviour ap- 
pears to be pious, fober, juft, and charita- 
ble, let his condition be what it will. 

My brethren, I would once more, in the 
conclufion, repeat the caution which has been 
already mentioned, that riches, or honour, or 
any thing of a parallel nature, any outward 
advantages in this world, are not the proper 
rewards of religion ; and though godlinefs, 
in. fome fenfe, hath the promife of the life 
that now is, yet that is none of the better 
promifes on which the gofpel covenant is 
eftablifhed. Chriilianity propofeth other 
kind of motives to us than thofe of this 
world, and requircth, in order to fincerity, 
that we fliould be influenced by them. If 
indeed we could aiTure men of riches and 
honour, as the certain recompence of their 
piety and virtue, perhaps many might be 
prevailed with, regarding thofe more than 
the fuperior arguments which the gofpel 
doth infift on -, but then piety and virtue 
would ceafe to be what they really are ac- 
cording to the true nature and fpirit of chri- 
flianity, which requireth that we fhould 

forfake. 



the Fruits of Wifdom, 1 65 

forfake all thofe things, that we fliouldSERM. 
pradtife religious virtue for its own fake, on ^^• 
the account of its own amiable excellence, 
and with a view to our obtaining the favour 
of God, beholding his flice in righteoufnefs, 
and being fatisfied with his likenefs. 

But the principal ufe we ought to make 
of the dodrine as it hath been explained, is 
to remove an objeftion or a prejudice men 
have againft religion, apprehending it to be 
contrary to their intereft in this world % to 
fliew the folly of the covetous and ambiti- 
ous, and the unreafonablenefs of the grounds 
men generally go upon in their purfiiit of 
riches and honour. It is thought that con- 
fcience ftandeth In the way of wealth as an 
obftacle, and that to be good and virtuous, 
is the way to be poor and defpifed. It is 
fo, I acknowledge, fometimes 5 fo it was in 
the firfl ages of chriflianity, and always in 
a ftate of perfecution j and in that cafe the 
faithful fervants of Chrift mufl: forfake the 
unrighteous Mammon^ nay forfake all their 
lawful worldly interefts, and even hate their 
own lives, that they may cleave to their 
mailer, and preferve their integrity. Befides, 
it it not to be thought that the profeffion 
and the practice of true religion will exempt 
men from the common calamities of this 
M 2 worldj 



1 64 Long-life y Riches J mid Honour, 

S E R M. world, or alter their natural circumflanceo 
^^' and relative conditions which arife from the 
eflablifhment of human focieties. Good 
men as well as bad are liable to ficknefs and 
death, and St. Paul fuppofeth, i Cor. vii. 
21. That men might be called to the pro- 
feffion and privileges of the gofpel in a flate 
of fervitude, from which chriiliianity did 
not releafe them, but directed them how to 
bear it j but, at leaft, all thefe calamities and 
afnidions, bad men are as liable to as the 
religious ; nay, there is a natural probability, 
and ordinarily it is found true in fad, that 
the prad;ice of real piety and virtue will be 
no hindrance to men's prefent interefl:, but 
rather promote it. Now, is it not extreme 
folly for men to rifque their falvation, that 
they may fave their lives, and get worldly 
gain, and yet not be in a better way to fe- 
cure thofe ends, but rather likely to come 
fhort of them > to facrifice their confclences 
to their honour, and yet lofe that honour 
they fo earneftly feek after, which generally 
is the cafe of ambitious wicked men. T^his 
their way is their folly ; and though it hath 
been proved to be fo by innumerable in- 
flances from the beginning of the world, 
yet men go on fllll in the fame track, and 
pofterity approve the maxims and the con- 
duct 



the Fruit i of Wifdom, 165 

dua of their fathers, as the Pfalmift obfer- Serm. 
veth, Pfal xlix. 13. 

Lqjlly, We may fee, and ought to ac- 
knowledge, the wifdom and the bounty of 
providence, which foordereth and difpofeth 
the affairs of this world, that generally mens 
interefl doth not interfere with their duty, 
and they do not expofe themfelves to very 
great inconveniencies and difadvantages by 
a ilria adherence to the praftice of virtue. 
We are here in a ftate of probation, and 
mufl lay our account with difficulties ; yet 
the affairs of this life are fo ballanced, that 
we have encouragements to our duty, as well 
as difcouraging trials, and the former feem 
rather, in the whole, to over>ballance the 
other ; fo that we are not without witnefTes 
of the divine goodnefs, and indeed of the 
^eal gain and advantage of godlinefs. 



M 3 S E R- 



[ i66 ] 

SERMON VII. 

The Love of W I S D O M necefiary 
to the attaining of it. 



PROVERBS VIII. 17. 

I love them that love me, and thofe that feek 
me early JJjall find me, 

Serm. / I ^ HE defign of this book is to teach 
^^^' JL men wifdom, that is, true religion 
and virtue, as we are told in the beginning 
of it, chap. i. i, 2. T^he proverbs of Solomon, 
to know wifdom and inflruBion, to perceive 
the words of underjlandmg. The author 
ufeth many arguments which fliould induce 
us to make wifdom our choice and our 
ftudy, fome of which I have, in feveral dif- 
courfes, infifted upon, fuch as thofe taken 
from the excellency and pleafantnels of its 
ways J from the confidence and fecurity of 
mind which arifeth from it in all the vicifli- 
tudes of time ; and the promife of God that 
they who find it {hall obtain his favour. I 
have fhewn you likewife, in explaining the 

words 



^he Love of Wifdom^ &c. 167 

words oi Solo?noji, chap. iii. 16. that though Serm. 
outward profperity is not the principal end, VII. 
nor the proper reward of religion, nay, to 
purfue it as the principal end is inconfiftent 
with fincerity; yet divine providence hath 
fo wifely and gracioufly ordered the flate of 
things in this world, that, generally fpeak- 
ing, the pradtice of virtue is not detrimental 
to our prefent intereft, but rather tendeth to 
promote it. There are, befides thefe, par- 
ticular arguments enforcing the particular 
branches of wifdom, as piety, diligence, 
temperance, juftice, and charity, which I 
fliall not infift on, and fome other general 
confiderations, efpecially the terrible punifli- 
ment and miferable effeds of folly, that is, 
of irreligion and wickednefs, which I hope 
will be fufficiently plain to any attentive 
perfon, from what hath been faid. 

I fhall therefore, in the next place, con- 
fider fome of the means which Solomoji pro- 
pofeth, and the neceffary qualifications on 
our part that we may attain wifdom. It is 
certain that a great many of mankind come 
(hort of it, and even many of thofe to whom 
isoijdom crieth, and underfianding lifteth up 
her voice ; that is, who enjoy the beft op- 
portunities by the publication of the will of 
God to them, and the gracious inftrudiions 
M 4 he 



.i6S ^e Love of Wifdom 

Serm. he hath vouchfafed to the world by his mef- 

VII. fengers. It is not conliftent with the nature 
of true rehgious wifdom, nor indeed with 
our nature, that it fhould be forced upon us, 
or difpenfed as fome other of God's gifts 
are to men promifcuoufly, without any re- 
gard to previous difpofitions, or preparatory 
endeavours ufed by them. It can never be 
reafonably thought, that fuch an accomphfh- 
ment as wifdom, fo perfective of the human 
nature, and advantageous to it, fhould pre- 
vent our delires and our labour to obtain it ; 
it is enough that God hath endued us with 
a capacity, and furnifhed us with fufficient 
motives and fufficient means, by a due im- 
provement of, and attention to which, we 
may arrive to fuch a meafure of it as will 
render us happy, and flill more and more 
happy in proportion to our proficiency. 

The firft qualification mentioned in the 
text is the love of wifdom, which will na- 
turally introduce us to an acquaintance witk 
it. Wifdom is reprefented in the flile and 
manner of writing ufed by Solomon and other 
ancient authors, as a divine perfon making 
a folemn entry into the v\^orld, difplaying 
her native excellence and beauty, and invi- 
ting men, even the mofi: fimple and igno- 
rant, to converfe familiarly with her, in or- 

de;-" 



neccffary to the attaining of it. 169 

der to their acquiring valuable knowledge, Serm, 
and thofe perfedions which are highly or- ^ VII. 
namental, as well as ufeful, and which will ' 
afford the moil agreeable entertainment to 
their minds; but fuch as remain ftupidly 
infenfible of her tranfcendent dignity, and 
through a vehement attachment to low and 
fenfual enjoyments, negled: her kind folici- 
tations, can have no benefit by them. I 
ihall, 

Firjl, Endeavour to explain the love of 
wifdom, and fliew the feveral fenti- 
ments and difpofitions which are im- 
ported in it. And, 

Secondly ^ How it contributeth to our ob- 
taining wifdom. 

Firft^ To explain the love of wifdom, 
and fhew the fentiments and difpofitions ^ 
which are imported in it. The affe(ftions 
and paffions of the human nature, are the 
moving fprings which fet our adlive powers 
at work : Defire, hope, and joy, which are 
all included in love, have a powerful influ- 
ence on the mind determining it to adion. 
And as the operations of this principle are 
uniform, by underftanding love, and the 

natural 



170 7he Love of Wifdom 

Serm. natural exertions of it towards any objed: 
VII. /'and we cannot but be fenfible of it, if we 
attend to what pafleth in our own minds) 
we may underftand how it operateth to- 
ward every objed: to which it is applied ; 
which is only faying in other words, with 
refped: to the prefent fubjedl, that, as in all 
other cafes, the love of wifdom fheweth it- 
felf by a high efteem, bv fervent defires^ 
and by a fincere delight in its ways. 

Various are the methods by which the 
objeds of afFediion are introduced into the 
mind, fome wholly by the fenfes ; no fooner 
the object is prefented, than, according to 
natural inflindl, the affedlion is raifed, pre- 
venting any reflexion or confidcration. Of 
this we have many inflances, and indeed, 
not only the defire of private good is thus 
excited, but our affedlion to other beings, a 
complacency in their happinefs, or a vigo- 
tous inclination to do them good as far as 
it is in our power. Thus, for inftance, if 
we fee any of our fellow-creatures in diftrefs 
or danger, how natural is compaffion, and 
how flrong a principle, often prevailing 
even againft private intereft, and the call 
of felfifh inclinations ? How quickly, and 
without any reflexion at all upon the rea- 
fonablenefs of it, or confidering at all that 

5 it 



neceffary to the attaining of it. 171 

it Is his duty, will a man find himfelf de- Serm. 
teimlned to ufe his utmoft power for reliev- J^|^^ 
inr one whom he feeth in great extremity 
and ready to perifh, even with danger, trou- 
ble, and difadvantage to himfelf? Nay, there 
are plain enough difcoveries of fuch affec- 
tions, or inflindts refcmbling them, in the 
inferior kinds of animals, who are not ca- 
pable of any moral refledtion or abflrad 
thinking at all. 

But there are other objedls of affedion 
which are brought into the mind after a 
different manner, that is, by refleaion, in- 
quiry, comparing things, and forming ge- 
neral notions of them. There are excellent 
objcds which, when well underflood, we 
cannot but highly efleem, but they do not 
occur to our fenfes ; we are led to the know- 
ledge of them by experience, obfervation, 
and reafoning. Of this fort is what S>olomon 
calleth wifdom or virtue, which is not an 
objea of fenie, but a quality of the mind 
intirely ab{\ra<5led from all material beings, 
and taking none of their properties into the 
idea of it, as real, however, as any of them, 
and as truly an objed: of love and efteem to 
the mind which difcerneth it. When the 
afFedions of piety, reverence for fupreme 

moral 



272 T^ke LoiJe of Wifdom 

Serm. moral excellence, of gratitude, benevolence, 

VII. and honefty, are brought into the mind, 
there is love excited to them, and they ap- 
pear very amiable and attractive objeds. It 
IS this indeed which is ftridly moral good- 
nefs or virtue, not a mere pronenefs to do 
good, raifed and excited to adlion by the 
impreflion which outward things make up- 
on the fenfes, but a temper formed to good- 
nefs, with the underflanding and approba- 
tion of a felf-reflediing mind, which dif- 
cerneth its excellence -, and Solomon very 
properly calleth it wifdom, becaufe it is 
peculiar to intelligent beings, and is the jull 
improvement of their rational powers. 

What, therefore, I think is firft of all im-^ 
ported in the love of wifdom, is, a high 
efteem of its faperior excellence, as the re- 
fult of mature conlideration. Solomon pref- 
fetH his difciples to exalt wifdom^ chap. iv. 
8. that is, to entertain very exalted thoughts 
of her dignity, for thefe v/ill naturally com- 
mand our afFedions, and engage us to ear- 
jieftnefs and diligence in the purfuit of her. 
And it is for this reafon that he very often 
compareth her with things which are the 
moil defired by men, and aflerteth that fhe 
is principal, far tranfcending gold and iilver, 
more excellent than the ruby or the topaz ; 

the 



jiecejfar^j to the attaining of it, 173 

the defign of which comparifons is to in- S e R m, 
duce men to an attentive confideration. ^11. 
The beauty of wifdom doth not flrike the 
fenfes as external objeds do ; it doth not by 
noife and tumult, or by a glittering lliew, 
captivate the fancy, which inftead of favour- 
ing is rather an enemy to its pretenfions ; 
but it addrefleth the underftanding, and be- 
fpeaketh our afFed:ion, by that fubflantial 
worth which will abide a ftrid and impar- 
tial examination. This is what methinks 
we fhould be induced eafily to comply with, 
becaufe it is fo becoming that reafon we 
boafl of as the high prerogative of our na- 
ture. Here now is a great difference be- 
tween the love of wifdom and other affec- 
tions, that it is always accompanied with 
the approbation of the underflanding, nay, 
and ftill the more we confider the more we 
approve it. It is an afFedion wherein we 
fhall always be juflified to ourfelves, which 
is a flrong argument in its favour, as it lay- 
eth a fure foundation of inward peace. Is 
it not unworthy of intelligent creatures to 
run blindly into the purfuit of any thing,. 
without having carefully inquired into, and 
judged of its nature, its worth, and its ufe- 
fulnefs ? Thofe creatures are not to be blamed 
who have no capacity of refleding and rea- 
fon ing 



174 ^^^ Love of Wijdom 

Serm. foning on their own propenfities and incli- 
VII. nations, for being direded wholly by them ; 
but it is reproachful for us not to fhew our- 
felves men, and call to mind, as the prophet 
Ipeaketh, not to compare the objeds of our 
own affedtions and delires, and give the pre- 
ference to thofe which our reafon muft pro- 
nounce the mofl worthy. Now, wifdom 
doth not, as many other objeds do, folicit 
our aifed:ions, and invite our profecutiori 
indeliberately ; fhe calls upon us to make 
the exadeft fcrutiny we can, and would 
have none to be her votaries, but upon the 
terms of a fair and impartial examination. 
And indeed a great point is gained when the 
mind is brought to fuch a difpolition j for 
it is no fmall difficulty to difengage it from 
flrong prepofTeffion in favour of external and 
fenlible things, and fuch a fair and impar- 
tial trial will iifue in the higheft efteem of 
wifdom, and that will even irrefiflibly draw 
our affedions. It will therefore lead to a 
jufl deciiion of the great queftion concern- 
ing what ought to have the chief room in 
our hearts, if we will dwell in our own 
thoughts upon a dehberate comparifon be- 
tween wifdom, and all thofe things which 
iland in competition with it; and if we 

fball 



neceffiiry to the attaint fig of it. ' 175 

fliall find ourfelves obliged to acknowledge Serm* 
its fuperior excellence, then it follovveth, ^Ih 

idly^ That we fliould defire it above all 
things. This alio Solomon propofeth as a 
qualification and means of attaining to wif- 
dom, Frov. xviii. i. Through defire a man 
hailing feparated himfclf, feeketh and inter- 
meddieth with all wifdom ; a flrong prevailing 
defire in his heart towards its native worth 
and mofl amiable beauty putteth him upon 
ufing the moll: vigorous and conftant endea- 
vours for acquiring it, which fhall be fuc- 
cefsfijl. Defire is, in the human conflitu- 
tion, an adive fpring of our movements and 
operations j as the weight of bodies deter- 
mineth their defcent towards the center, io 
defire carrieth the mind towards its objeft ; 
its force appeareth univerfally in all the bu- 
finefs of human life, and in the whole com- 
pafs of our enjoyments j it is that which ex- 
citeth every one of the powers of nature to 
its proper exercife. Seeing it is fo, if the 
obtaining of wifdom be propofed as our end, 
wc muft be engaged in the profecution of it,' 
jufl: as in the profecution of all other ends, 
that is by defire. But in the human nature 
there is a great variety of inclinations, and 
they cannot all have an equal degree of 
force; that which is the ftrongeft carrieth 

the 



176 '^he Love of Wifdoni 

Serm, the mind, and determineth it to adlion ; ths 
VII. reft are gratified, and their demands com- 
phed with, only by its permiffion, or when 
it is abated. Thus the different lufts of 
men, according to their predominancy, form 
their difpofitions and different vicious cha- 
radiers ; the voluptuous, the proud, and the 
covetous, are fo feverally denominated from 
the defire which hath the afcendant over 
them ; they have a variety of defires, but 
that which is the moft prevailing, confti- 
tuteth the temper. 

As thefe different corrupt affedions are 
the great obftrudtions to wifdom, they are 
then effediually removed when wifdom itfelf 
becometh principal in the efteem of the 
mind, and its ruling defire : And, therefore, 
what the divine inftrudions of this book 
conftantly aim at is, that we (hould eagerly, 
affedionately, and vehemently, defire reli- 
gion and virtue preferably to all other things, 
which is very reafonably infifted on and re- 
commended to us, becaufe in many cafes 
the determination of the defire, and the mea- 
fures and degrees of it depend on the mind 
itfelf. The influence of defire is very great, 
and it ftrongly, nay fometimes irrefiftibly 
carrieth the mind j yet we are not moved 
necclTarily, as bodies are by fprings and 
3 weights 5 



7iecej]ary to the attaining of it, ijy 

weights i the foul hath a great fhare in form-* S e r M, 
ing, railing, and regulating its own defireS; VII. 
and by an attention to the motives of dclire, 
examining them carefully, and applying it- 
felf to the confideration of proper arguments, 
which it hath naturally a power to do, the 
current of its inclinations may be changed 5 
thofe which are evil and irregular cured^ 
and the good farther ftrengthened and con- 
firmed. 

Our blefled Saviour, in his excellent fer- 
mon on the mount, which containeth the 
fum of his falutary doctrine, pronounceth 
them blefled ivho hunger and thirft after 
righteoufneJSj Matt. v. 6. That righteouf- 
nefs is true religion, the fame thing v/hich 
Solottion calleth wifdom, and the beft pre- 
paratory difpofition in order to our attain- 
ing it, and enjoying the happy fruits and 
rewards x)f it, is an eager appetite, exprelTed 
by hungering and thirrting, which is raifed 
in the mind by a ferious attention. After- 
wards, in his inflrudiive parables. Matt, xiii, 
he reprefenteth true piety and virtue under 
the fimilitude of treafure hid in a field, and 
a pearl of great price, to the end we may 
be engaged to feek it earneflly and above all 
things, which is the firfl and ^bfolutely ne- 
cefiary qualification in order to our attaining 

Vol. III. N it. 



1^8 'The'LoveofJViJdom 

SERM.it, This was the excellent fpirit of the 

VII. apoftle Paul^ Philip, iii. 8. Tea^ donhtlefs-, 
and I count all things but lofs for the excel- 
lency of the hiowledge of Chrijl fefus my 
Lord ; by which is meant true chriftianity, 
pure and undefiled religion before God the 
father, thus explained by him in thefe 
words, ver. lo. which, in the fiyle of this 
apoftle, evidently fignify holinefs, charity, 
meeknefs, and patience, after the example 
of Chrift ', that I may know hiniy and the 
power of his rejurreBion^ and the fellowfi:ip 
cf his fuferings^ being made conformable to 
his death. This he prized above all things,, 
and counted them but lofs and dung that he 
might attain it. But the infincerity of many 
may appear to themfelves, if they bring the 
temper of their minds to a fair trial ; for 
they cannot but be confcious to themfelves, 
that other oppofite inclinations prevail ; 
though they may have fome defires to wif- 
dom, efpecially becaufe it is of fo great im- 
portance to their interefl:, yet they have little 
fenfe of its beauty and amiable excellence ; 
or things more grofs, and of an inferior na- 
ture, preponderate, and their defires of re- 
ligious virtue are, as Solomon elfewhere fpeak- 
eth, feeble and ineffedual, Prcv. xiii. 4. 
l^he fold of the fluggard defreth and hath 

nothing,. 



hecejfary to the aftaintJig of it, i^^ 

nothing. We ought to examine our pious S e r m. 
inclinations after this manner, what is it VII. 
they terminate upon ? Is it the beauty of ^ 
holinefs ifelf? And are they more prevailing 
in the mind than other inclinations ? 

3^/^, Love naturally (heweth itfelf in the 
complacency which the mind taketh in the 
enjoyment of, or even in meditating upon, 
the beloved objed^s. Thus the love of wif- 
dom is teftified by delighting in it, and this 
Solomoji requireth as the neceflary condition 
of obtaining it, and partaking of its happy 
fruits, Frov, ii* i o, x i . When wifdom enter^ 
eth into thine hearty and knowledge is plea^ 
fant unto thy foul, difcretion Jhall preferve 
thee, unde7'Jlanding fiall keep thee* We 
may obferve that this is one ingredient in 
the fentiments and difpolitions of the pious, 
David often exprefleth his great fatisfadion 
in the way of Gods tefiimonies, which are the 
ways of wifdom, he rejoiced in them more than 
in riches. Pfal. cxix. 14. A?2d made them 
his fongs in the houfe of his pilgrimage, fob 
alfo maintained his integrity by this plain 
evidence of it, that he delighted in God, 
which he could not do without delighting in 
"his law, nay, he faith expreflly that he 
efeemed the divine precepts more than his ne-^ 
eeffary food. And though the pleafures of 
N 2 religion 



, i8o ^he Love ofWifdom 

S E R M. religion feem to be the refult of an intimat-e 
*^il acquaintance with it, doubtlefs they are then 
the ftrongell, and a growing experience will 
be accompanied with an increafe of joy, 
yet pleafure attendeth the firil fincere in- 
clinations to wifdom, and the firft hearty 
endeavours to attain it. Defire indeed feteth 
the mind and all its powers on work, and 
ftill in our imperfect fliate, is the moft pre- 
valent fpring of diligence. Our condition 
is like that of children, of new-born babes, 
as St. Peter defcribeth it, who defire milk that 
they may grow thereby 5 but that very defire 
hath enjoyment in it, and the entrance of 
wifdom giveth pleafure to the foul. It 
may therefore be very proper for us to refle<ft 
on our joys, and to confider what it is we 
have the greatefl; complacency in, that we 
may know what manner of fpirits we are 
of, for the conflitution of the mind appear- 
eth as much this way as any other. The 
worldly man entertaineth himfelf with the 
higheft fatisfadlion in his great polTeffions, 
he faith to his foul, Thou haft much goods 
laid up for many years, take thine eafe^ eat, 
drink, and be merry, Luke xii. 19. And 
every one according to the particular temper 
and complexion of his fpirit rejoiceth in the 
fruition of. the objed which is the moft 



2 agree- 



nccejfary to 'the attaining of it. 1 8 1 

agreeable to him. Whether therefore wcSerm, 
are lincere lovers of wifdom, we may judge, VII. 
by the pleafure we take in its ways and in- 
flru(5tions. The experience of delight, and 
the high relifh of agreeable objedls will 
powerfully determine the mind for its own 
fake to meditate upon them, and by this 
we may know whether we are after the fejlj 
or the fpirit j for they that arc after thejieff.\ 
mind the things of the flejh^ but they that are 
after the fpirit, mind the things of the fpirit ^ 
Rom, viii. 5. For whatever kind of obie(5t 
yields us the greatell joy, that it is which 
the mind will naturally attend to, and fre- 
quently entertain itfelf Vv^ith, Let us then 
compare the joy which arifeth from wifdom, 
and that which we have in other things, 
and thus judge of our own difpolitions : 
A perception of pleafure in the gratification 
of our natural appetites is the necelTary 
efFed: of our conftitution, and therefore is 
not to be condemned as if there were any 
thing criminal in it j but the mind is impo- 
tent and irreligious which is entirely under 
the power of them, and hath no tafle of 
the rational and fuperior pleafantnefs of 
wifdom's ways, in which they who arc 
wife perceive a vaflly greater dignity and, 
happinefs, Thefe are the ways, thefc the 
N 3 (epti- 



iSz T/je Love of Wijliom 

Serm. fentiments and difpofitions by which the 
VII. love of wifdom difcovereth itfelfj and I 
fhall confider in the 

Second place, how they contribute to our 
attaining that excellent quality. We fee in 
the ordinary courfe of human life and affairs, 
dejire putteth men upon that labour and di^ 
'ligence which are the ordinary means of 
fuccefs, and even reconcileth them to that 
difficulty and pain, which otherwife would 
feem very grievous j fuch an effeA it had 
upon yacoby as to make feven years of fer- 
vice feem but as a few days, Gen. xxix. 20, 
Which however he complaineth of chap, 
xxxi. 40. as very irkfom, the fr oft confumed 
him by night, and the heat by day \ and in a 
jnultitude of inftances, we commonly fee 
that ftrong affedions excite men to painful 
labour, and even make fufferings appear 
light, which otherwife would be thought 
infupportable. The covetous and the am- 
bitious toil inceffantly, they rife early and fit 
up late, they eat the bread of for rows, that 
they may compafs the ends to which their 
feveral inclinations them, though they are 
under difcouragement from experience, which 
often flieweth that fuch endeavours arc un- 
fuccefsful. But there is a more certain con- 

nedlion 



necejjary to the attahiing of it. 183 

neaion between the love of wifdom and ft.e Serm. 
obtaining it. becanfe it doth not depend on JU^ 
thinss without, which are not uiour power, 
and die very afFedion is a part and degree 
of the acquifition and the enjoyment. Aa 
high efteein, an earneft defire, and tranfcen- 
dent delight in religion and virtue, have 
in them the reaUty of religion and vntue 
itftlf, wiiich being a quality of the mmd, 
muft be principally feated in the afteaions, 
and is really, though imperfealy. there 
where it is beloved. The love of w.fdom 
iflcludeth in it the root of every pious and 
virtuous inclination and every good praftice; 
tliey who love it. v^ill be difpofed to hearken 
to its counfels, to receive its inftruftions, 
and conform to its rules. 

Solomon telleth us, Prov, viii. 9. that '^^ 
^ords ofr^-ifdom or righteoufrcfi arc all^atn 
to him that underftandeth; it is not difhcult 
to a mind that hath a fervent afFca.on,_to 
it as Mofes excellently fpeaketh concernmg 
the commandments of the mora! law, Beta. 
XXX II. Audit is applied by the apoftle 
to the word of faith or the gofpel. which is 
to us the rule of religious virtue. Th^com- 
,„a,nhuent is not bidden from thee, neUeru 
it far of. It » mt i" heaven, that thou 
JlLldefifay, -who fiall go up for us to bca-^ 

IS 4 



iS^ ^I^^ Love cfWifdom 

S E R M. *Den and bring it unto tis, that we may hear 
VII. it and do it ; neither is it beyond the fea, that 
thou Jhouldefi fay, whojhall go over the fea 
for us, and bring it unto us that ive may hear 
it and do it. But the word is very nigh un- 
to thee, in thy mouth, and ift thy heart, that 
thou inayefl do it. The glorious charader of 
wifdom's ways is plainnefs and perfpecuiCy 5 
we are not put on an impracticable work, 
or'fuch as is attended with infuperable hard- 
fFiips, as if it were Hke climbing up to hea- 
ven, or ranfacking the bowels of the earth ; 
they lie open to them, who with hearty 
defire, and with pleafure and alacrity, ap- 
ply themfelves in that honourable purfuit. 
Our greateft labour is with our own hearts, 
to get them duly prepared, diverted of pre- 
judices and prepofcilions, to quiet the cla- 
mors and tumults v/ithin, to impofe filence 
upon the fenfesand the imagination, which, 
are continually prefenting to us vain diver- 
fions and amufements ; when this is done, 
and the fervent love of wifdom will efFe<5t 
it, for how can we pretend to love that 
which hath not the afcendant in our hearts, 
and doth not command the attendance of 
our thoughts in preference to other things; 
but, I fay, when this is done, we may fay, 
pnto wifdom, as Frov^ vii, 4. Thou art my 
' ' ' Mer, 



necejfary to the attainmg of it. 185 

Jifter^ and call underjlanding a kinfwomaiu S e R M. 
The man who hath anrived to a juft domi- VII. 
nion over himfclf, who hath the command 
of his paflions and can reftrain his loofe irre- 
gular appetites, is ah-eady poircfTed of wifdom, 
and is truly a virtuous man. Now, this is 
fo far from being extremely difficult to the 
perfon who loveth religious wifdom, that it 
is the infeparable character and certain eftedt 
of a prevailing love to it j for how can it be 
efteemed above all things, earneftly delired, 
and delighted in, unlefs other oppofite af- 
fections yield to it, and the mind, defpifing 
and forfaking them, cleaveth to it. It is 
true Solomon faith, Fro'V, xxiv. 7. T^hat 
knoii'ledge is too high for a fool, that iSy 
the Jcorner : The proud and the wicked 
man, whofe mind is enflaved to his paffions, 
imagineth a mighty difficulty in it, but it is 
of his own making ; his corrupt and vicious 
affediions confirmed by evil cufloms arc pre- 
dominant, they are become even nature in , 
him, and he is become impotent, unable to 
unlearn them, to deliver himfelf from their 
power, and change his courfc, as the Ethio- 
pan is to change his Jkin, c;« the leopard his 
fpotS', that is, he hath made it hard for 
himfelf, by an habitual indulgence to his 
paffions, whereby he hath put himfclf under 

their 



i 8 6 The Love of Wijdom 

Serm. their power; but ftill a llncere afFedion to 

VII. wifdom, and ilrong refolution, would con- 
quer it; for the words of the prophet 
referred to '^er. xiil. 23. are not to be 
underftood of a natural impoilibillty, but 
a great difficulty occafioned by evil habits. 
It is prejudice only and corrupt affedlign 
which make the things ' of wifdom too 
high for a man. To the upright heart 
and fincerely difpofed to embrace the inr 
flrudtions of virtue, its myfleries become 
very plain and familiar, Frov. xiv. 6. 
The fcorner feeketh wifdom, and fmdeth it 
noty hut knowledge is eafy to him that under^ 
fiandeth, 

idly. The love of wifdom contributeth 
to our attaining it, ai it is a difpofition high- 
ly pleafing to God, to which he hath made 
gracious promifes, particularly of inilrudion. 
We muft conceive of the fupreme being as 
a lover of virtue and goodnefs, of every 
thing which is truly amiable on the account 
of moral excellence ; and if it be fo, he 
hath complacency in thofe of mankind, 
whofe affedions are placed on the fam« 
thing which is Jiis delight. Original perfed 
wifdom loveth its own image in the crea- 
tures, and even fuch a tendency towards it, 
as a high efleem, and earneft defire, and 

tranfcen- 



nee e [far y to the attahting of it, 187 

tranfcendcnt delight j for, as I obferved be-SERM. 
fore, thefe are the reality, at leafl, the be- ^^I» 
ginning of wifdom or true religious virtue 
jtfelf. Now, if they who have this qualifi- 
cation are thereby entitled to the favour of 
God, it followeth that they are in the beft 
preparation for wifdom, and a continual ad- 
vancement in proportion to the meafure of 
their love to it ; becaufe he is the Father of 
lights fro?n whom every good and perfedl gift 
Cometh down^ and he hath commanded fuch 
as lack wifdom, to ask it from him, with a 
fincere love to it, who giveth liberally and 
doth not upbraid* As he communicateth 
freely of his bounty to all his creatures, and 
his mercies are over all his works, he will not 
be fparing of his gifts to the objedis of his 
peculiar complacency. Wifdom is a gift 
which it is every way worthy of him, and 
congruous to his moral attributes, to beftow 
on thofe whom he dclighteth to honour. 
Providence indeed difpenfeth its gifts very 
liberally, and with an undiftinguifhing hand, 
even to the unthankful and the evil; but wif- 
dom is of a more peculiar nature, and a 
more certain mark of the divine favour, ap- 
propriated therefore to them who have a 
more efpecial intereft in his regard. As 
this is agreeable to the fentiments we na- 
5 turally 



1 8 8 '^he Love of JVifdom 

Se RM. turally have of the Deity, the fcripture con- 

VII. taineth exprefs promifes of divine inflrudion 
to fuch as are religioully difpofed to receive 
it ; and, as I obferved before, all pious dif^ 
pofitions are comprehended in the love of 
wifdom. Thus, in Prov. i. 23. Turn you at 
my reproof y behold^ I "will pour out my fpi- 
rit upon you^ I will make known my words un- 
to you. This promife, though fometimes 
mentioned in the Old Teftament, is more 
clearly and exprefsly given in the New, and 
the advantages of it are more fully ex !ain- 
ed. There v/e are taught, that the Holy 
Ghofl was fent down from heaven to in- 
flruft finners, to convince the world ofjin^ 
of righteoiifnefsy and judgment ; not only to 
infpire the apoflles and affift them in an ex- 
traordinary manner for the confirmation of 
chriftianity, but to abide always in the 
chriftian church, to accompany the mini- 
ftration of righteoufnefs by his gracious in- 
fluence, enlightening the minds of men, re- 
claiming them from their errors, delivering 
them from their prejudices again fl the wif- 
dom which is from above, and, in fine, 
operating pov/erfully on their minds, that 
good difpofitions may be formed in them^ 
apd carried on to perfedion* 

Thefc 



nccelJary to the attmnhig of it. ib^ 

Thefe confiderations fnew, that as we S e R m. 
have the greateft encouragements and ad- J^ 
vantages for attaining to wifdom, that is, to 
true and fincere religion, with the happy 
fruits of it by the chriftian difpenlation, 
and fince God isoorketh in us, both to 'will 
and to do of his good pkafire, we ought to 
ufe all diligence in humble and affedionate 
concurrence with him. 

And, on the other hand, our remiffnefs, 
and ou'r continuance in folly, will be alto- 
gether inexcufable. Since God hath put 
fuch a price in our hands to get wifdom, no 
other account can be given of our coming 
fhort of it, but that we have 7io heart to it, 
PrcT'. XV ii. 16. 



S E R- 



[ jgo] 

SERMON VIIL 

Diligence in feeking WISDOM 
always fuccefsful. 

PROVERBS VIII. 17. 

Tbofe thatfeek me early y JJjallJifid me: 

Serm. c > HE father of light s^ from whom every 
^^^*^' JL good and perfeB gift cojiieth down, be- 
ftoweth his mercies very freely on mankind ^ 
but his gifts are not all equal, nor do they 
equally require previous difpofitions and the 
ufe of preparatory means on our part. Our 
beings, with all the powers and capacities 
which belong to them, are derived from 
the divine bounty ; and to them it can never 
be fuppofed that any merit, or any agency 
of ours, could have in the leaft contributed. 
We fee that the enjoyments of life, not only 
thofe which are abfolutely neceffary to its pre- 
fervation, but thofe which render it comfort- 
able, are difpenfed by the indifcriminating 
hand of providence, and often in as large a 
meafure to the unthankful and evil, as to the 

good 



Deligence ih fecking lVifdo?n^ Si^c, 191 

good and virtuous. But wifdom, efpeclally Serm. 
in the fenfe of this writer, though origi- VIII. 
nally from God, is of a peculiar nature, and 
it doth not prevent any qualifying difpofi- 
tions and endeavours in thofe who obtain it. 
The foundation of it is laid in the faculties 
of the mind, that fpirit ivhich is in many 
and the infpiration of the Almighty^ which 
giveth him imderftanditig j we have affedlions 
and determinations in our nature which lead 
to it 5 but wifdom itfelf is an attainment to 
which our own aflive endeavours contri- 
bute, and the noblell powers of the mind 
are voluntarily and vigoroufly exerted in it. 
Upon a comparifon with the common fa- 
vours of providence, this blefled accom- 
plifliment which giveth fuch a luftre to the 
human nature, being its highefl improve- 
ment, will appear far more excellent to any 
one who duly conlidereth it ; it is too great, 
and the confequences of it too important, 
that it fhould be proftituted to the fool or 
the wicked, the fenfual or the vicious, the 
lazy and unadive. One qualification for 
attaining wifdom I have already explained, 
that is, the love of it 5 another is contained 
in the fame text, and an exprefs promife of 
fuccefs is made to it in the name of wifdom, 
thofi that feck me early JJj all fnd me. The 

love 



192 Diligence In fe eking Wifdom 

S E R M. love of wifdom is not an idle affed:ion, reft- 
VIII. ing in the heart ; it is an adive principle, 
which will exert itfelf in vigorous endea- 
vours. Nothing is more ufual with men 
than to give good words, to pay a compli- 
mental refpe<5t to religious virtue, and ac- 
knowledge its tranfcendent excellency ; and, 
the truth is, they cannot help acknowledg- 
ing it in their hearts, being naturally and 
neceflarily determined fo to do. But when 
they are called upon to pracStife according to 
the direction of their avowed principle, then 
the coldnefs of their love, and the ftrength 
of their contrary inclinations appear. No- 
thing can fufficiently prove the fincerity of 
our profelled affedlion to wifdom, but that 
feeking it early recommended in the text 5 
which I fhall, in this difcourfe, 

Firjl, Endeavour to explain ; and then. 
Secondly, Shew the advantage of it in 
the afTurance of fuccefs, or the happy 
event ; if we feek wifdom early we 
fhall find it. 

Flrfly Let us confider what is meant by 
feeking wifdom early; which is evidently 
this, that it hath the chiefeft room in our 
cares and application. That which is highell 

in 



always ftcccefsfut, - 19^ 

in our efteem, moll earneftly deiired and S e R Mi 
delighted in, will naturally engage our firfl VIIL 
concern and endeavours, while matters of 
an inferior conlideration are juftly poftpo- 
ned. Our Saviour requireth us to feek, 
firfl, the kingdom of God and his right eouf- 
nefs; and the apoflle recommendeth it to 
chriflians, that they feek the things which 
are above* Both thefe exhortations fignify 
the fame thing with that in the text ; for 
what is the kingdom of God and his righte- 
oufnefs ? and what are the things above, but 
the perfedion of wifdom ? Or, if we will 
make a difference between religion and the 
rewards of it, yet that maketh no difference 
in the manner of feeking ; for glory, ho- 
nour, and immortality, are fought rwo other- 
wife than by a patient continuance in well- 
doing, which is nothing elfe but the prac- 
tice of religious wifdom. Diligence in feek* 
ing wifdom evidently fuppofeth a high 
efteem for it, and an ardent defire 5 but the 
fentiments and difpofitions imported in the 
love of it, I confidcred in difcourfing on the 
firfl: part of the text : In purfuance of which, 
and as the very meaning oi fc eking wifdom^ 
there muft be an afTiduou^ and conflant ufe 
of all proper means, and the vigorous exer- 
cife of our own powers, of our underfland- 
VoL, III, O ings, 



1 94 Diligence iitfeeking JVifdom 

S E R M. ings, in attending to and meditating on in- 
VIII. ilrudlion, and of our adive powers in prac- 
tifing according to it. We all know what 
diligence is, in the things of this world ; 
our naturally active powers do always exert 
themfelves according to the predominant in- 
clinations and bent of the mind, and in pro- 
portion to the flrength of them. Solomon 
obferveth, that the adulterer waitethfor the 
twilight 'y he fpareth no pains, he endureth 
fatigues and tedious delays, that he may ac- 
complifli his wicked purpofes. The cove- 
tous and the ambitious rife early and fit up 
late, that they may acquire riches and ho- 
nours. Change the objedt, and you will fee 
what it is to be diligent in religion j that it 
importeth an earneft intention of mind, 
which is particularly the fpirit and life of all 
religious labour j for it is not here as in or- 
dinary outward work, where the labour of 
the hands produceth the proper eifedt, how- 
ever the mind is employed j but the foul 
muft efpecially exert itfelf with vigour and 
earneft application, without which, external 
adions are of no avail, indeed, but empty 
forms, ferving no other purpufe than to 
' difbonour God, and expofe men to con- 
- demnation for hypocrify. 



u-t 



Secondk. 



always fuccefsfuL ig^ 

Secondly J And if we would indeed feek S e r M. 
wifdom, it muft be by the conftant ufe of vIII. 
the proper means in order to our obtaining 
it. Thefe the nature of the thing dire(fleth, 
and to us they are clearly marked out in that 
divine revelation which is given to us for a 
rule. We are required to fearch the holy 
fcriptures, and attend to the opportunities 
of inftrudlion, to hearken diligently, and, as 
Solomon fpeaketh, to waif at wifdoni's doors j 
efpecially to practife religious virtue, which 
is naturally the way to acquire habits of it, 
and even to arrive to perfe(5lion in them. 
We can never reafonably pretend to defire 
any thing which is attainable, the way be- 
ing prcfcribed for attaining it, while we 
negled: that way, and abandon ourfelves to 
a fupine indolence, or to a contrary courfe. 
In the common affairs of life we judge of a 
man's difpofitions by his practice, and of 
his intention by the means he maketh ule 
of; if we obferve a man diligent in his call- 
ing, we conclude, and very juftly, that he 
is intent upon the comfortable maintainance 
of his family ; if we fee one continually 
pradiiing any art, we judge that it is his 
intention to be mailer of it, and reap the 
benefit which may arifc from it. After the 
fame manner we may reafonably infer, that 

O 2 ^ if 



196 Diligence infeeking JVifdojit 

SERM.ifaman be induftrious in ufing the mean^ 
VIII. of religion, and praiSlifing its rules, it is his 
intention to get the knowledge of it, and 
perfection in it ^ if he patiently continueth 
in well-doing, and is ftedfaft and unmove- 
able, abounding in the work of the Lord, 
he knoweth and expedieth his labour fhall 
not be in vain. But, on the contrary, let 
his profeflion be ever fo good, and if he 
flatters himfelf that his love of wifdom is 
great, and his defires and hopes of the re- 
ward of it very flrong, yet if he doth not 
deny ungodlinefs and worldly lujis, and live 
Joberly^ righteoujly, and godly ^ in this worlds 
if inftead of crucifying the fiejh with its af- 
fe^ions and lufls, he giveth up himfelf ta 
work wickednefs with greedi7iefs -, the prac- 
tice of that perfon giveth his profeflion the 
lie, he deceiveth himfelf, and his pretended 
religion is vain. Not every one who maketh 
the loudefl: and moft pompous profeflion,, 
or, as our Saviour expreflfeth it, who faith 
unto him, Lord^ Lord, pretending the greateil 
refpedt to him, is the greatefl: proficient in 
wifdom, the mofl approved difciple of Chrift, 
and the beft qualified for entering into the 
kingdom of heaven : But he who is labori- 
ous in good works, and is continually en- 
deavouring to do' the will of God. Many^ 

faith 



always fuccefsful, 1 97 

fakh our Lord, fiall ftrive to enter in, and Seru^ 
Jhallnot be able, God hath fhewn us the VIII. 
particular path wherein we muft walk, and 
the courfe we nauft run 5 it is not by being 
induftrious in uncommanded rites, 'voluntary 
humility, and will-worjlnp ^ nor yet by a 
formal repetition of external fervices, even 
though they be of divine inftitution, but 
the plain way of holinefs j being righteous 
before God, and lualking in all the Jiatutes 
nnd ordiiiances of the Lord blamelefs. There 
is an eftablifhed progrefs in religious virtue, 
and the path of the jiift is as the finning 
light, whi^h fiincth more and more unto the 
perfeSl day j and there is, according to the 
declarations of God's word, an eilablifhed 
connection between holinefs and eternal life, 
which is really nothing elfe than the per- 
fedion of holinefs. We may as well pre- 
tend to difTolve the heavens and the earth, 
to alter the frame of nature, as to change 
that conftitution in the moral world, fixed 
in the eternal and invariable counfels of the 
great lawgiver; as the prophet Jeremiah^ 
vchap. xxxiii. reprefenteth the covenant God 
made with IJrael as immutable, like what 
he calleth the covenant of the night ,ani 
of the day, atid the ordinances of hca'ven. 
The defires and the hopes of men, who 

O 3 makic 



jgS Diligence iji fee king Wifdom 

Serm. make any profeffion of religion at all, are 
VIII. generally fet upon the reward of it under 
the notion of a great happinefs, which in- 
deed God propofeth in order to encourage 
and engage us to diligence. But the truth 
is, to feek it ; and to feek wifdom or reli- 
gion itfelf, is juft the fame thing j and the 
facred writers always take care to teach us, 
that in vain fhall we hope to obtain the 
crown of glory, unlefs by the pradice of 
holinefs, or walking in the paths of virtue : 
2 Tim. ii. 5. If a man alfo jlrive for jnafleries^ 
yet is he not cyowneJ except he firi^ceth law^ 
fully ^ according to the rules of the courfe ; 
that is, in the prefent cafe, by a careful ab- 
fjtlnence from all fin, and abounding in the 
cxercife of every virtue. 

La/lly, Being thus folicltous, and having 
made a choice of the befl means, diligence, 
ovfeeki?2g early ^ importeth ufnig them fre- 
quently and with fpirit and vigour. The 
fcriptures often warn us againft floth, and, 
particularly, Solomon in this book, giveth us 
a very clear and lively defcription of that 
difeafe of the mind wliich debafeth it, wafl:- 
eth its ftrength by an infenfible but fatal 
confumption, and burieth its natural adive 
powers in a vile ilupidity. It is true what 
be for the mofl: part defcribeth under that 

name, 



alivays fuccefsfuL 199 

name, and earneflly diluadeth from, fliew- Se rm. 
ing its unhappy tendency, is idlenefs and VIII. 
inadtivity in temporal affairs, which is itfelf ' 
folly and wickednefs j but it may be eafily 
applied to the bufinefs of religion, in which 
we cannot hope to make any progrefs, with- 
out an earnefl: and vigorous application ; for 
thefe are prejudices to be conquered, temp- 
tations and infirmities to be relifted, and, in 
the generality of men, corrupt cuftoms and 
foolifli opinions to be unlearned, which will 
require mature confideration and care, both 
in the fludy and the pradice of wifdom. 
The criminal negligence by all means to be 
avoided is, either the total omiffion of our 
duty, or the fuperfjcial and fpiritlefs per- 
formance, both which proceed from the 
fame indifpofiticn of mind, they are equally 
faulty, and obftrudl our proficiency in wif- 
dom. 

A ferious attention to the frame of our 
nature, and the prefent conftitution of things, 
will convince us that induftry is very be- 
coming fuch creatures as we are. From the 
relation and dependance of things, and the 
ufes they ferve in the fyftems of nature, we 
infer the defign of them j and if that way of 
reafoning be jufl, nothing will appear more 
plain to any confiderate perfon, than that 
O 4 the 



206 Diligefice In Je eking Wijdom 

SERM.the powers and capacities of our nature, 
VIII. now in a ftate of weaknefs, a kind of in- 
fancy, are to be improved by ufe, and car- 
ried on by degrees to maturity in their befl 
and noblefl: accomplifhments, that is, in 
knowledge and virtue. And our bleffed Sa^ 
viour, the great mafter of our religion, 
whofe precepts are perfectly agreeable to 
reafon, hath injoined induftry to his difci^ 
pies that they may grow up to perfedion j 
the method he prefcribeth of advancing in 
religion to the Jiature of perJeSi men^ as the 
apoftle fpeaketh, is, by a careful confidera- 
tion, and ftudy, and pratflice ; it is by ufe 
that we have our internal fenfes exercifed to 
difcern good and evil \ and by ufe we ac^ 
quire a facility in the pradice of patience, 
temperance, godlinefs, and all the other 
chriflian graces. Such diligence is efta- 
blifhed by a perpetual and univerfal law of 
chriftianity, which bindeth every difciple 
of the Lord Jefus ; and in proportion to it 
he hath declared, that their rewards fliall 
be, when he cometh to reckon with his 
fervants, and render to every man according 
to his ivorks. He hath entrufted them all 
with talents, diftributing to them as he hath 
thought fit, according to their feveral abi- 
lities ^ but a price is put into the hand of 

every 



(ilwayi fticcefsful , 2 o i 

every one to get wifdom ; and the flothful S e R M. 
fervant is, in his account, a wicked one, and VIII. 
will be condemned for his unprofitable- 
nefs : But, for the diligent and faithful, 
their recompence (hall be in exadt propor- 
tion to the meafurc of their improvement. 

Thus I have endeavoured to explain the 
feeking of wifdom early, and fhewn you, 
that it importeth a follicitude and earneil 
intention of mind to attain it, the choice of 
proper means, and diligence in the ufe of 
them. I proceed in the 

Second place, to confider the advantages 
of it, the aiTurance we have of fuccefs, or 
the happy event, that if we feek wifdom 
early, we fliall find it. It will be the lefs 
necefTary to infifl upon this, becaufe I ex- 
plained fo largely the influence which the 
firft qualification, the love of wifdom hath 
upon our obtaining it ; and with the love of 
wifdom feeking it early, hath a necefTary 
connexion, as the certain infeparable effedl ; 
fo that the manner of its contributing to the 
end of our gowing wifer or more virtuous, 
is illuflrated the fame way. You fee the 
text containeth an exprefs promife made 
in the name of wifdom, they that feck 
me early fliall find me. Diligence import- 
eth 



202 Diligence in feeki7ig Wifdom 

Serm. eth In it, thofe difpofitlons of mind, and 

VIII. that pradice with which we muft fuppofe 
the fupreme Being, infinitely good, and a 
perfed lover of virtue, fo pleafed, that he 
will beftow whatever is necelTary on his 
part in order to mens polTeffing that bleffed 
quality and endowment with the happy 
fruits of it. It is the greateft evidence we 
can give of a prevailing love to wifdom, 
which furely God approveth above all 
things, and of a readinefs to thwart and deny 
for its fake the love of eafe and averfion ^to 
labour, and all feliifh afFe(5tions, wlilch 
might hinder our progrefs -, the greatefl 
evidence of a fpirit prepared to undergo all 
the difficulty and pains which may arife 
from the indolence and depravity, which 
every man may find in himfelf. The great 
qualifications which the fcriptures require 
(and they are all imported in diligence) for 
our making progrefs in religious wifdom, 
are, hearing, or a careful unprejudiced at- 
tention to divine inflru(5bion, meeknefs, hu- 
mility, and obedience ; on thefe conditions 
God will give his holy fpirit, whofe good 
offices for our attaining wifdom and advancing 
even to confummate virtue, are largely ex^- 
plained in the gofpel. Our Saviour hath 
allured us, that his heavenly Father will give 
n. kis 



akvays fiiccefsfuL 203 

his holy Jfirit to them ajk, and feek, andSERM. 
knock; that is, who ufe great earneftnefs, ^VIIL 
importunity, and conftancy, to obtain it, in 
order by that divine afliftancc to become 
wifer and better, more pious and virtuous. 

Again, it is plain that diligence in feeking 
wifdom or religion is really pradlifing it. 
This is a means vi^hich the nature of the 
thing, and the fcripture dired: us to ufe; 
and v^e find in all thofe things the knowledge 
whereof or dexterity in them is acquired, 
it is by application and practice we arrive to 
perfcdion. Thus it is that habits of all forts 
are attained, and facility and pleafure in 
them ; that which men indeed have a ca- . 
pacity for, but are unpradifed in it, is dif- 
ficult at firfl and painful, afterwards becom- 
eth cafy and delightful ; and it cannot be 
Qtherwife confidering the imperfedion of 
the human capacity. Seeing, therefore, the 
feeking of wifdom is doing thofe things 
wherein it confifteth, the effedt of our be- 
ing accuftomed to them, muft be our find- 
ing or increafing in it. 

Having now finiOied what I intended, in 
general, in difcourfing on this text, I hope I 
fhall not depart far from the defign of it, in 
recommending two particular diredions by 
way of application 5 one is, to feek wifdom in 

the 



2b4 Dtligmce infeekuig Wifdom 

6 E R M. the beginning of every day ; and the other, to 
VIII. feek it in the morning of Hfe or in youth. Firft^ 
Religion is the proper bufinefs of every day ; 
it is not a folemn feparate affair, which only 
requires an attendance at fome fpecial fea- 
fons, and ordinarily to be laid afide ; it 
ought to mix itfelf with all our concerns, 
and if it be fo, it muft be fit for us to be- 
gin every day with it Thus did the pious 
Pfalmift, Pf, V. 3. My voice Jhalt thou hear in 
the morning, O Lord^ in the morfiing will I 
diredJ my prayer unto thee^ and will look up^ 
They who fincerely feek God, feek wif- 
dom in the firfi place, and fervent prayer 
is orte means of obtaining it ; "James \. ^. If 
miy man lack wifdom^ let him ajk c^God^ 
4ind itfiall be given him. A religious difpo- 
^tion will naturally dire<5l to this; for if de- 
vout affecftions are prevalent, they will de- 
termine our firfl waking thoughts to it as the 
moft efteemed obje<5l -, and, furely, if the 
bent of our inclinations is towards wifdom^ 
vve fhall be inclined to fix on this as the 
bed opportunity for applying ourfelves to it, 
when refrefhed with ileep, the body giveth 
lefs diflurbance to the mind, and is more 
free from that dulnefs and inactivity, which 
affect it wlien tired and worn out with la- 
bour, and with thofe amufements and avo- 
3 cations 



always fuccefsfuf. 205 

cations with which the fenfes and the ima- Serm. 
gination load it through the daily courfe of VIII, 
our converfation with the world. Every 
day of our lives we enter into new fcenes of 
vanity and temptation, againft which the 
greatefl vigilance and precaution we can 
ufe is fcarcely fufficient for our defence; 
but certainly it muft be a great advantage 
to have the foul fortified by an early refolu- 
tion, as the refult of ferious thought, and 
by a diligent endeavour to get fuch impref- 
fions made as may abide through the whole 
courfe of our affairs, and enable us to main- 
tain an uniform tenor of fpirit in all events 
which may befal us, and the variety of 
bufinefs in which we may be engaged. 
Other affairs which men are folicitous about, 
they apply themfelves to early ; and if re- 
ligion be a bufinefs of the greateft import- 
ance, it juflly requireth an early attendance; 
efpecially, that wifdom may get the flart of 
folly in our thoughts, and the exercifes of 
our minds (which very often it doth not) 
and a feafonable provifion may be made 
againft the natural weaknefs of the mind, 
and the temptations which may be expeded 
to affault it. The merchant, that he may 
increafe his gain in the way of his lawful 
occupation ; the hufbandman, that he may 
know the ftate of hi^ flocks, and whether 

hi^ 



20 6 Diligence in feehing JVifdom 

Serm. his fruits be fafe and profpering, and apply 

VIII. his cares as their condition requireth ; the 
fcholar, that he may make proficiency in his 
learning rifeth early, and is affiduous in la- 
bour ', and fhall not he whofe bufinefs is re- 
ligion, and who hath his falvation to work 
out, be as diligent, and attend his moft im- 
portant concern in the prime of every day, 
the befl feafon for fuch labour. 

2.dly, Let the young be perfuaded to feek 
wifdom early, to feek it in youth, a feafon 
which hath great advantages for fuch exer- 
cifes. Solomon, having in his book of 
Eccleflajies largely defcribed the vanity and 
vexation of all things under the fun, and 
having made bitter reflections on the folly 
of irreligion, and of men's Indulging them- 
felves in the way of their hearts, and the 
fight of their eyes, propofeth this exhorta- 
tion, chap. xii. i. and prefl^eth it by flrong 
arguments, remember now thy Creator in the 
days of thy youth. When all the powers of 
nature are in their vigor, and the mind in 
the bell aptitude to receive ftrong and laft- 
ing impreffions ; then is the propereft fea- 
fon for learning any thing, but efpecially, 
coniidering the pronenefs of mankind to 
folly, which is confirmed and rendered 
more inveterate by cuftom, it is plain we 

fhall 



always fuccefsfuL 207 

(hall moft fuccefsfully employ ourfelves in S e r m. 
the ftudy of religion in the prime of life j v III. 
for how much eafier is it for the mind un- 
debauched by vicious cuftoms, to receive 
a good tindlure, and be turned towards vir- 
tue, than to unlearn evil habits, which have 
long prevailed and taken deep root, and to 
mortify corrupt inclinations, which are be- 
come obdurate by indulgence having had a 
long pofTeflion. If young perfons could be 
perfuaded to enter into a ferious confidera- 
tion of the infirmities and difadvantages of 
old age, the evil days, as Solomon calleth 
them, and the years 'wherein we jhall fay^ 
there is 710 pleafure in the in, it might hap- 
pily prevail with them to provide better 
againfl: the otherwife infupportable burden, 
by a feafonable diligence in their duty j that 
the forrows of thofe painful and uncom- 
fortable remains of life might be alleviated, 
by the peaceful reflecflions of an approving 
confcience on a well ordered converfation, 
rather than load declining years with a work, 
to which they are altogether unequal, the 
very beginning of religion, the exercife of 
repentance from dead works ; and proceed- 
ing upon that early foundation, fo to finifh a 
good courfe, as to have well grounded hope 
of an abundant entrance into the everlafting 

king- 



20 8 Diligence in fe eking Wijdont 

S E R M. kingdom of our Saviour Jefus Chrifl. Befides, 
VIII. it is altogether uncertain, whether ever you 
fhall arrive at old age (as every one from 
daily obfervation and experience will find 
himfelf obliged to acknowledge, however 
little influence it may have on the temper 
of his mind and his condudl) j and there- 
fore to neglecSt the feeking of wifdom in 
youth is to rifque your falvation, and to lofe 
what may be the beft, nay only, opportunity 
of providing for a future ftate. It is true, 
youth hath its difadvantages too ; it is the age 
of folly and vanity j animal afFed;ions are then 
vehement J inexperience and thoughtleffnefs, 
precipitate the unwary young man into fnaresj 
but this is fo far from being a juft objection 
againft feeking wifdom early, that, on the 
contrary, it is a flrong argument for it, 
there being no other prefervative againfl 
the mentioned inconveniency and all its 
fatal confequences j and the difficulties how- 
ever great are not lelTened, but increafcd ra- 
ther, by negle<fling the concerns of religion, 
and yielding to vicious inclinations. 

But the more general application relateth 
to all the flages of life, indeed, to every 
part of our time. 1 do not mean that we 
fhould be continually employed in the im- 
mediate duties of what is ftridly called re- 

ligion/ 



' alivays fuccefsfut. :i d 9 

ligion. Wifdom is more compreheniive, andSERM. 
its influence fhould reach to the direding all VIII. 
our affairs. It is a good precedent T)avid 
giveth us, T'fal. ci. 2. / ivill behave myfelf 
ivifely in a perfedl way. I will walk within 
my houfe with aperfeB heart : in all my do- 
meftic concerns, and, by a parity of reafon, in 
all the other buflnefs of life. But as all our 
affairs fliould be conduced by the principles 
of religious virtue, I fhewed you, that to feek 
it early y fignifieth making it the chief bufi- 
nefs, the ruling delire of our hearts, and our 
conflant labour, as Solomon often in this 
book advifeth, afTuring us, that our labour 
fhall not be in vain, chap. ii. 3, 4. If thou 
crieji after knowledge^ and liftefl up thy 
"joicejor underjianding^ if thou fe eke ft her as 
(liver y and fear cheft for her as for hid trea- 
fureSy then ftsalt thou underhand the fear of 
the Lord, and find the hiowledge of God. 
And in chap. iv. 5, 7. Get wifdom, get un- 
derftafidingy forget it not, neither decli?ie 
from the words of my mouth. Wifdom is 
the principal things therefore get wifdom^ 
and with all thy gettitig, get imder (landing. 
What Solomon faith concerning the fuccefs of 
induftry in religion, is attefted by the ex- 
perience of others, who by due pains, in 
fpite of all difadvantages, have attained to it* 
Vol. IIL P Un« 



2 1 o "Diligence in fe eking Wifdom 

Serm. Unwearied endeavours have overcome dif- 
VIII. ficulties, which feemed to be very great, 
removed hindrances which were in the way, 
and let the diligent ftudents into the fecrets 
of it, making thofe things, which, accord- 
ing to this author's expreflion, are too high 
for a fool, plain and familiar to them» 

But, befides the excellency of the thing it- 
felf, that is, of wifdom or virtue, which fhould 
engage us to the profecution of it, Solomon 
telleth us, we fhall have great benefit by it, 
as in chap. iv. 6, 8. She Jhall preferve and 
keep thee, fie jloall promote thee, and bring 
thee to honour. It is natural for men to feek 
happinefs ; whatever other principles of ac- 
tion we have, affedtions to other beings, and 
particular feliifh paffions, we are fure there 
. is in every one of mankind a general delire 
of felicity, and that we have a power of 
choofing the means for obtaining it, in 
which reafon, obfervation, and experience are 
our guides. Now, the feeking of wifdom, 
or a conflant and diligent ufe of the proper 
means for obtaining religious virtue, by a 
careful attention to the rules and motives of 
it, and endeavouring to grow up to perfec- 
tion in practice, this is the highefl enjoy- 
ment our nature is capable of, as well as the 
moll reafonable exercife of our powers. 

God 



always fucccfsfuL 211 

God hath annexed pleafure to fuch dilUSERM.' 
gence, and the good man is jlitisficd fro?n VIIL 
hiwfdf', a pure and a folid fdtisfaftion arifeth 
from fuch an exercifc of his capacities, and 
ufe of his talents. We have the concurring 
teftiinony of good men concerning the joy 
which fpringeth up in their minds from a 
ferious affcdionate meditation on God's pre- 
cepts, and, efpecially, from their abound- 
ing in good works ; whereas an unmanly in- 
dolence taketh away the relifh of life itfelf, 
and rendereth it but an infipid and burthen- 
fome duration -, and for the pleafure of the 
external fenfes, though they enjoy it to as 
great perfediion as any men, not the lefs but 
the more for their keeping within the 
bounds of innocence and moderation j yet 
it is far from being their chief enjoyment : 
The improving of their minds in knowledge 
and virtue, and the practice of piety, righte- 
oufnefs, and charity, yieldeth a vaftly more 
noble and intenfe fatisfadtion. Every ftep 
of our proficiency in wifdom will bring 
an increafe of pleafure 3 the light ivhich is 
fow?i for the righteous JJAneth more and more 
to the perfeB day ; and the joy of the up- 
right in heart, as it will grow up to a full 
harvefl: in the future flate, when they who 
fow to the fpirit, bringing forth the fruits of 
P 2 k 



212 Diligence in feekiiig Wijdom 

Serm. it plentifully, fhall reap life everlafting, GaL 
VIII. vi. 8. So even in this prefent life, which is 
their feed time, they reap true and fubftan-- 
tial happinefs in the approbation of their 
own confciences, and firmly believing in 
Chrift, though 7io'w they fee him not, they 
rejoice with joy unfpeakable and full of glory. 
This being the bed improvement we can 
make of our powers and capacities, we tref- 
pafs againfh the law of our creation as well 
as againft the revealed will of God -, either 
if we do not fo employ thofe powers and 
capacities, or ufe them to contrary purpofes. 
We fee other creatures which have adive 
powers conflantly ufing them according to 
the diredion of nature ; and if we carefully 
attend to our own conftitution, it muft ap- 
pear that this is the mofl proper improve- 
ment we can make of our powers. Solomon 
fendeth the flugo-ard for inftrudtion to the 
ant, which by a natural inftindt is diligent 
in providing againft future wants, and to 
anfwer the purpofes of its being. Creatures 
of a fuperior order are zealous and diligent 
in their higher fpheres, and in employing 
their capacities for the proper ends of them. 
And {hall we only be unadllve, hide our ta- 
lents in the earth, or abufe them to mean 
and unworthy purpofes ? 

Chri- 



always fuccefsfuL 213 

Chiillianity addeth ftrong motives to thofe Serm. 
of reafon and the religion of nature. That VI II. 
defcription which the apoftles give us of the 
grcit and awful day of the Lord, they ap- 
ply, in exhorting us to grow in grace^ and in 
the knowledge of our Lord Jefus Chrijf, or in 
religious wifdom, 2 P^^. iii. 18. The ex- 
ample of our S:ivicLT is fet before us, who 
i^m. his earlieft youth increafed in wifdom 
and favour with God and man, as he grew 
in ftature, Luke ii. 52. And through the 
whole courfe of his life, he went about do- 
ing good. We have enemies of our falva- 
tion, who are continually laying fnares for 
us, and going about feeking whom they 
may devour 5 and therefore we fliould be 
fober and vigilant, feeking wifdom to be 
defended againfl their malicious efforts and 
their fubtle devices. And, laftly, we have 
the promife of divine affiftance, which is a 
very great encouragement; if to the dili- 
gent ufe of all other means we add fervent 
prayer, our Saviour hath aflured us, that 
God will give his Holy Spirit ; and tliere- 
fore, if any of you lack wifdom^ let him ajk 
of God, who giveth to all men liberally , and 
ufhraideth not, and it jhall be given him. 



S E R' 



SERMON IX, 

S E L F-G ovERNMENT effcntial tQ 
WISDOM. 



PROVERBS XXV. 28. 

He that hath no rule over his own fpirit^ u 
like a city broken down^ and without walk, 

S E R M. A S it is the profeiTed defign of thjs boolf 
^-^' JLjL. to recommend religious virtue unde): 
the character of wifdom, the author, in his 
concife and unconnected manner of writing, 
hinteth feveral flrong arguments to prefs his 
main fcope, which I have endeavoured to 
explain 3 and then I propofed to confider 
the directions he giveth in order to our at- 
taining wifdom. If men are once won to a 
juft efleem of that great endowmept which 
is the very perfedion of the human nature, 
the nobleft accompiifhment of the mind ; 
^nd if they be thoroughly fenfible of the 
unfpeakable advantages which will accrue to 
them from it both in this world and the 
jiextj this will naturally produce the love of 



Self-government ejfentlal to Wifdom. 2 1 5 

wifdom, and an ardent defire after it, which Serm. 
is the firft quahfication 5 and, next, an ear- JA^ 
neft diligent endeavour, or feeking wifdom 
early j both which I have confidered. But 
the great queftion is concerning the proper 
objec-t of our diligence. In every art or 
fcience a man learneth, he muft know now 
to employ his induftry 5 it is not enough to 
tell him he muft take pains, he muft be 
made to underftand how he ought to beftow 
his pains. The artificer is acquainted with 
his tools, and the manner* of ufing them, 
and with the proper materials of his labour : 
The man of letters is direded in the choice 
of his books, and the proper fubjeft of his 
ftudy In like manner the teachers of reli- 
gious wifdom ftiew us what are the objeds 
about which it is converfant, and they are 
our own hearts : The votaries of virtue 
muft there apply their ftrength and their 
moft careful attention ; and their conftant 
bufinefs is to obferve, and duly to regulate, 
the affeaions, difpofitions, and voluntary 
movements of their own minds. Solomon 
direaeth us, ?rov, iv. 23. 7b keep the heart 
mnth all diligence, for out of it are the ifues 
of life-, and, in the text, he fheweth the 
wretched, the forlorn, and ruinous condi- 
tion of the perfon who hath no rule over 

P 4 his 



2 1 6 Self' government effentid to Wifdom. 

S ERM. his own fpirit ; he is like a city that is bro' 
'IX. ken down^ and without walls, without order 
and beauty, witnout ftrength and fafety 5 a 
coniufed, irregular, and deformed heap, 
open to every alTault, and defencelefs againft 
any invader. 

This, one would think, is a fubjeifi: re^ 
commended to our ftudy and application by 
the immediate intereft we have in it. What 
is it that can poffibly concern a man more 
than the art of* felf- government, the conle- 
quences of it fo nearly affedl him, and a 
pei .:eption of the advantages of it in inward 
tranquillity fo obvious, indeed, unavoidable, 
and of the difadvantage of negleciling it in 
the continual reproaches of his own heart ? 
] . it not very inexcufable for a man to be a 
ilranger to himfelf, and not to know how 
to maJL^ the beft of his own natural powers 
and aifedions, fo as he may be carried to 
his proper perfed;ion, and enjoy all the hap- 
pinefs he is capable of? Would it not fhew 
a trifling and over-curious temper- for a man 
to fpend his time in inquiring into the ftate, 
the fituation, the cuftoms, policy, and laws 
of far diftant countries, and be a Granger to 
his own, to which he hath fo near a rela- 
tion, and fo much a better opportunity of 
improving hjs knowledge to valuable pur- 

pofes ? 



Self-government ejfential to Wifdom. 2 1 7 

pofes ? In like manner, every kind of know- S erm, 
ledge may be reckoned unprofitable while 
the knowledge of ourfelves is neglected, and 
we do not make it our bufinefs to under- 
hand the maxims and rules by which we 
fliould govern our fpirlts. For a man to 
take a great deal of pains abroad, to fpend 
his time and labour in acquiring the art of 
working in metal, in wood and ftone, a 
dexterity in cultivating the ground, to be 
fkilful in commerce, to underftand the hi{^ 
tory of nature in as great an extent as Solo" 
inon did, who had underftanding exceeding 
much, and largencfs of heart even as the 
fayid 'which is on the fea-JJjore ;. fo as not only 
to treat judicioufly of moral fubjed:s, but to 
fpeak with knowledge of trees, fro7n the 
cedar which is in hehanon^ to the hyjf'op which 
fpringeth out of the wall-, of be a ft s alfo, mid 
fowls, and creeping things , and f {Joes, i Kings 
iv. 29. To know the diflances and mag- 
nitude of the heavenly bodies, and the laws 
according to which they are moved in their 
feveral orbs, to be an able politician, well 
acquainted with the interefts of flates and 
kingdoms, and the rules by which they 
ought to be governed 3 for a man, I fay, to 
arrive at a great meafure of perfedion in 
thefe kinds of knowledge, however ufeful 

3 ^^^ 



2i8 Self-government effential to Wijdom. 

Serm. and valuable in many refpeds, and yet to 
be ignorant of hinifelf, and of the true prin-r 
ciples and maxims by which he ought to 
condu(5l his life and form the difpofitions of 
his mind, is to be wife in trifles, and foolifh 
jn matters of the greateft moment. What^ 
ever reputation may be acquired by fkill in 
thofe things which may be juftly called fo- 
reign, as having no relation to the principal 
ends of our being, fuch ikill, when exer- 
cifed ultimately on objeds of this fort, is 
but unprofitable, and indeed folly ; yet are 
many of mankind, even of thofe who are 
reputed wife, guilty of this folly j for though 
the objed; of religious wifdom be very ne^r 
us, and our moil imnaediate concern, it is 
very often overlooked, the minds pf me^ 
being too much engrolTed by the objeds of 
fenfe, or through a fecret unwillingnefs to 
enter into fludy and difcipline. I will en-? 
deavour, in this difcourfe, 

F'lrft^ To give you, at leaft, a general no- 
tion of what it is to have rule over our 
own fpirits j and then you will fee the 
ufefulnefs of it, and the infeparable con- 
pedion it hath with attaining to, and 
jiiaking progrefs in, wifdom. 



fielf-gcoernment ejfential to Wifdom. 



zig 



Firjlj Let us conilder what it is to have S e r m, 
rule over our own fpirits. It is obferved by IX. 
expofitors, that the word rendered fpir'it^ 
fometimes, in the writings of this author, 
iigniiieth anger, as, Re clef. x. 4, If the fpirit 
of the riiler (that \% jiis wrath) rife againji 
thee^ leave not thy place ; for yieldi?jg pad" 
ficth offences. And Frov. xvi. 32. He that 
is flow to anger ^ is better than the ??iightyy 
and he that ruleth his fpirit, than he that 
faketh a city. This, no dcubt, is one of the 
paffions which ought to be kept under a 
fleady government, if we would make any 
proficiency in wifdom, for // refieth in the 
bofom of fools. But there are other affedions 
and paffions of the human nature, which 
for the fame reafon it is necelfary to reftrain 
and controul, becaufe, often rifing to an ex- 
orbitant height, they are enemies to virtue. 

To have a juft view of this fubjecft, we 
ought to confider the intire conftitution of 
our minds, and all their powers and facul- 
ties, affedions and paffions, between whick 
there is fuppofed a great difference, feeing 
it is the fame agent who is to rule and be 
ruled ; that is, the fame fpirit. There is 
fomething in it which hath a right to do- 
fninipn, as being in its nature fuperior ; 

there 



220 Self'go'vernmenf ejfenital to Wifdom, 

Serm. there are other parts which hold an inferior 
IX. place, and ought to be in fubjedion. Now, 
if we attend to the conftitution of the hu- 
man fpirit in its full extent, we fhall find 
in it a great variety of powers and affedions, 
various fenfes or ways of perceiving tilings 
without us i various defires and averlions 3 
a power of refieding upon ourfelves, of 
comparing our own thoughts, and the re- 
prefentations which are made to our minds 
of things as good or evil j of inquiring into 
the importance of them, and all the coiJi- 
derations which fhould dired our choice, 
and of determining upon the whole. We 
find alfo that which is called conjcience^ a 
fenfe of duty and fin, and cf moral good 
and evil ; a necefTary felf-approbation arifing 
from the one, and reproach and condemna- 
tion from the other. There are, befides, a 
great many propenfities in our minds which 
cannot be called in the ftrideft fenfe natural, 
but incidental rather, and which take their 
rife, not from the efier-ce of our conftitu- 
tion, but from particular occafions in life, 
various complexion of body, and other in- 
^ ciclental caufes. To make this plain by ex- 
amples J we fee a great difference in the 
tempers of men, fome eagerly covet wealth, 
others have an impatient thirll for power 

and 



Self'gcvemmejit effeiitlal to Wijdom, 221 

and honour, and others are prone to theSERM. 
purfuit of pleafure j fome timorous fpirits IX. 
are very apt to fall into panicks, are thrown 
into conflernation by any fudden furprifing 
emergent, which prefenteth danger to the 
imagination ; and others fall into furious 
tranfports of anger upon any apprehenfion 
of an injury, or appearance of provocation. 
But that thefe are not natural in the flridleil: 
fenfe, that is, neceffarily belonging to our 
conftitution, I think appeareth from this 
confideration, that they are not uniform. 
Nature operateth alike, and by certain inva- 
riable laws. All kinds of beings in the uni- 
verfe continue in their motions and relations 
after the ordinance of their great author, as 
the Pfalmift fpeaketh, FfaL cxix. 91. con- 
cerning the heavens and the earth. And fo 
in fome things, the human nature is as uni- 
form as any other ; there are certain fenfa- 
tions, powers, and appetites, in all men, of 
which we can no more diveft ourfelves, 
than we can ceafe to be ; but thefe parti- 
cular propenfities, of which I am fpeaking, 
are not fo ; they are flrong in fome, in 
others weak, or fcarcely to be difcerned at 
all, which flieweth them either to be con- 
tradled, or to depend on accidental caufes. 
Nay, they vary in the fame perfons ; he 

who 



222 ^elf ^government ejjmtial to Wifdonu 

SERMi who is voluptuous in youth, becometh, per- 
haps, covetous in his more advanced years, 
and peevifli and froward in his old age 3 fo 
that even oppofitc difpofitions prevail in him 
at different times^ Eelides, they have been, 
the very firongefh of thern, conquered and 
amended, by firm refolution, by diligence 
in the ufe of proper means, with the affift- 
ance of divine grace. 

As to the caufes of thefe affections and 
propenfions in men, there is generally 
thought to be, and probably is, a remote 
tendency to particular difpofitions of mind 
from the very frame of the body* One is 
fanguine, another is cholerickj another is 
melancholy j but there is no fuch infelicity 
of bodily conflitution as hath a neceffary in- 
fluence on the mind, while it continueth 
poffeffed of its natural powers to form its 
temper, otherwife the diforders arifing from 
this caufe would be faultlefs -, the conftitu- 
tion of the body may minifter great temp- 
tations, yet the mind hath a natural force, 
and is under a law to refift them. 

I am apt to believe, the more 'general 
caufe of criminal diforders, and con traded 
faulty difpofitions, is from rafli opinions 
haftily taken up, and on no juft grounds* 
Every man may find, if he confiders what 

paffeth 



ScIf-gGvern??Jcnt ejfential fo Wifdom, 223 

paffeth in his own heart, that befides the S e r m, 
impreffions which are nccelTarily made by ^^' 
external objcd:Sj there are images continual- 
ly formed in the fancy, and there are often 
confufed combinations of thoughts, repre- 
fentations of things, which have no exiftence, 
nor any foundation in reafon. The imagi- 
nation joineth notions very arbitrarily toge- 
ther ; fometimes only the dark fide of an 
obje(fl: is feen, without attending to that 
"which is more agreeable; fometimes on- 
ly thofe parts are viewed which are apt 
to adminifter pleafure and move defire, {Grip- 
ping it of every thing which hath a con- 
trary tendency, which however ought to be 
confidered, in order to form a true judg- 
ment. Very often our falfe opinions are 
imbibed from the company we converfe 
with, or occafioned by outward circum- 
ftances, education, and cuilom, all which 
are known to have a great fliare in forming 
the tempers and manners of men. 

From this fhort and general view of the 
human fpirit, we may take our rife to the 
confideration of the government which is 
ellablifhed in it, where the proper authority 
is lodged, and what ought to be fubjedt. 
There are fome things exempted from this 
dominion, and are indeed not properly un- 
4 der 



224 Self-government ejjential to Wtfdom, 

Serm. der any law, becaufe we have no liberty in 
IX. them. The original determinations of our 
nature we cannot poffibly alter nor hinder, 
and we are not obliged to it. We cannot 
put a flop to the perception we have by our 
fenfes, to our hearing founds, feeing colours, 
and perceiving other fenfible qualities j nor 
yet to the original appetites, as hunger and 
thirfl, or to the natural defire of happinefs j 
nor indeed to the approbation of acftions 
morally good, when we underftand them, 
and the difapprobation of that which is evil. 
Thefe things do not belong to the rule of 
our fpirits, they are the conftant neceffary 
effeds of the law of nature, or the confti- 
tution which the Author of our beings hath 
given us. 

But there are powers and afFecflions in 
our minds, the exercife whereof is under 
our direction, and we are accountable to our- 
felves for it. For inftance, a man's rule 
over his fpirit confilteth in fufpending his de- 
termination, till he hath duly examined the 
caufes and motives upon which it is found- 
ed. I obferved before, that we are liable 
to many miftakes in this ftate of infirmity^ 
whereby we are drawn into a wrong con- 
dud: ; not that the fault confifteth in the 
erroneous opinions themfelves, but the cri- 
minal 



^clf'gcroernmcnt effential to Wifdotn. 22 c 

minal caufes by which we are betrayed into Serm* 
them, and in too haftily following their di- IX. 
recflion without inquiring whether it be right 
or wrong. This power of deliberating and 
fufpending determinations we are confcious 
of, and can never juftify it to ourfelves, that 
we do not exercife it upon proper occaiions. 
No man findeth himfelf under a neceffity of 
confenting to every propofal which is made 
to him, or of following every fuggeflion in 
his mind. He hath a power of doing or for- 
bearing, of choofing or refufing ; nay, we 
are not under a neceflity of ading according 
to the firft apparent probability ; we can 
fufpend our judgment and our choice till we 
have confidered more maturely, till we have 
examined whether there be not a ftronger 
argument, and a jufler motive of action on 
the other fide. By a conftant careful atten- 
tion, a fincere, that is, a diligent impartial 
inquiry, a great many of our errors might 
be corrected, which are the unhappy fources 
of ill condudl; thofe vain images formed in 
the fancy, into the eager and indehberate 
purfuit of which we fufFer ourfelves ta be 
hurried, might be prevented, and that 
confufed aflemblage of thoughts which ex- 
citeth flrong propenfities and averfions, very 
often unreafonable, might be broken, 
' Vpl. IU, <^ Thk 



T 



226 Self' government ejjhifi'al to JViJdom, 

E R M. This is the iirjil, and indeed an effential 
■^^- branch of felf-dominion, or rule over our 
own fpirits, without which we have not 
the right ufe of reafon, which is our prin- 
cipal diflinguifhing fiiculty, nor can regular- 
ly purfue the proper ends of fuch a being. 
On the one hand, it is to be confidered, 
that our condition and capacity is limited 
and imperfect 5 we cannot, at one view, 
comprehend the whole of things which 
are necefTary to be confidered, in order to 
the direction of our choice and our prac- 
tice, but mufl take them in gradually, and 
purfue our enquiries by leifurely fteps, as the 
narrownefs of the mind will allow. How 
then is the underftanding to be exercifed, if 
it is to be exercifed at all in forming our 
condud:, but in deliberation ? And what 
room is there for deliberation, unlefs the 
adive powers be fufpended to give way to 
it ? On the other hand, this is the high pre- 
rogative of our being, above inferior agents, 
particularly thofe of the brutal kind. God 
hath made us with a variety of delires and 
afFe<5lions, between which a bal lance is to be 
preferved, that we may attain to the ends 
of our being, and enjoy our true happinefs. 
We have felfifli defires, which terminate in 
private good or enjoyment : We will find 

ia 



SclJ-gCDemment cjfenfial to Wijdom' 227 

in our own hearts too, a defire of the good S e r M. 
of others, mid a delire to thofe actions IX. 
wherein our own minds may approve us, to 
the things which are pure, true, and juft, 
and honeft, and lovely : I'he former are in 
niaiiy men flrong and vehement, being con- 
tinually indulged and complied with; the 
other are overlooked and negled.ed, where- 
by they become weak ; and yet the force 
of them appeareth very great, by the moil 
painful fenfations which arife in the mind 
for counter-a(fting them. It is for thofe 
creatures which have no defires but what 
center in themfelves, to follow their direc- 
tion wholly and without any helitation 3 but 
for us whom God hath endued with a capa- 
city, and even a fenfe of obligation to do 
good to others, and to pleafe him, wc 
ought to cherifli and ad;ively endeavour to 
jftrengthen thofe nobler fentiments and dif- 
pofitions, which is at the fame time pur- 
fuing our own happinefs in the beft manner ; 
for perceptions of the higheft pleafure are 
annexed to them. But in order to preferve 
this due ballance of the affections, and an- 
fwer the ends of our entire conftitution, 
which are fo much fuperior to thofe of the 
brutes, it is necelTary we fhould have, and 
habitually exert the power of fufpending 
(^2 our 



22S Self-government ejfential to Wifdom. 

•S E R M. our determinations, till we have examined 
IX' and been fatisfied, concerning the motives 
upon which we a6t. The more we have 
of this power, and exercife it, the more we 
are mafters of ourfelves, and have rule 
over our own fpiritsj and that mind is 
impotent and without any defence againft 
fatal mifcondud:, which adeth rafhly and 
indeliberately. 

But more particularly, to have the rule 
over our own fpirits, is, to keep the paffions 
under an exadt difcipline, and to reftrain 
their exceiles. By the pafTions are meant 
thofe vehement fenfations and emotions, 
which accompany defire and averfion, the 
great fprings of adion in mankind. Ex- 
perience flieweth, that often flrong agita- 
tions of body, and violent perturbations of 
mind attend our purfuit of what is appre- 
hended to be good, and our averfion to, 
and endeavour to fhun evil. Thefe in their 
original defign, as planted in us by the wife 
and gracious Author of nature, are a very ufeful 
part of the conflitution, direding and ex- 
citing us to the vigorous ufe of proper means 
for our own prefervation and happinefs, to 
V^^hich men would not be generally deter- 
inined by calm reafon and deiire. 

Concern- 



Self-gGver?mtent ejjential to TVifdo??u 229 

Concerning every one of the paflions We S e r m. 
may anderfland by ferious refledion the par- IX. 
ticular ends and ufes they ferve ; and it is 
the province of reafon and confcience to 
keep them within thofe limits which the 
ends and ufes diredt, that is, to provide that 
they do not tranfport us beyond the jull de- 
fign, or into a vehemence above what the 
importance of it will allow. This will be 
beft underftood by particular examples. An- 
ger is a paffion which the author of nature 
hath planted in us for our own necelTary 
defence, by repelling injuries, and that we 
may exert ourfelves with vigour for the pre- 
fervation of our lawful interefts againll un- 
juft invafion j but it rifeth to an extreme 
which ought to be reprefTed, when it tranf- 
porteth us beyond thofe bounds, and when 
it terminateth in the deftrudion or hurt of 
the injurious, without regard to our own 
fafety, which is the proper end. 

Again 5 there are natural defires in men 
of very unequal moment which often rife to 
paflions. But how unreafonable and weak 
is it to be paffionate for trifles ? and thofe 
defires which are of greater confideration to 
the ftate of the world, but do not relate to 
the highefl: ends of life, certainly we ought 
fo to govern, that the anxiety aod uneafi- 

0^3 nefs 



230 Self-government ejjential to Wifdom. 

Serm. nefs of them do not entirely defliroy the re- 
IX. lifli of life, and render us unfit for purfuing 
the main bufinefs of it. The defire of ofF- 
fpring is a natural one and lawful, but it 
was heightened by paflion in Rachel to a 
great extreme, when fhe faid, give me chil- 
dren^ or I die. 

Befides thefe pafiions which have a foun- 
dation in nature, and the excefs only is 
faulty, which the mind ought to reftrain 
by calm and ferious confideration, there are 
others raifed on occafions merely fantaflical > 
cuftom, habit, and other caufes, beget falfe 
opinions, which reprefent things under the 
appearance of good, and f^amp a great im- 
portance upon them, which have really no 
relation to the neceffities and the ends of our 
being, as the objeds of the original defires 
have 5 fuch as gay apparel, equipage, titles, 
which have the inviting idea of ma2;nificence 
and grandeur annexed to them. But if we 
calmly confider the human nature, we will 
fee they have no connedlion with the main 
concerns of it ; and yet thefe f uitaftical 
things are known to be the occalion of very 
violent and diflurbing paflions, which a 
wife man ought to reflrain ; and it evidently 
belongeth to ajuft government of himfelf. 

Feair 



Belf-goveniment ejfentlal to Wijdom. 231 

Fear is, by the wife and good Creator, S e r m* 
placed in our nature for its prefervation, IX. 
that beiag apprifed of danger, we fhould 
arm againft it, and take all necefTary pre- 
cautions for our fafetyj but very often it 
hath the contrary effect, it fo difpiriteth and 
enfeebleth a man, as to render him quite 
uncapable of doing any thing for his own 
defence, which is a great inflance of wcak- 
nefs and want of due government over our 
own fpirits j but it might be faccefsfully 
oppofed by reafon and vigorous refolution, 
though reafon and confcience have, perhaps, 
as hard a taflc in conquering fear as any in- 
firmity of the human nature. But it is not 
necefTary to go through all the pafTions and 
infirmities of the human mind, which ought 
to be kept under difcipline, the examples I 
have mentioned will be fufHcient to anfwer 
the defign I propofed, that is, to give you a 
general notion of what it is to have rule 
over our own fpirits, I come, in the 

Second place. To confider the reafonable- 
nefs and ufefulnefs of it, and the connedioa 
it hath with attaining to, and making pro- 
grefs in, wifdom. The tr^e end of fclf- 
government is, that the fuperior powers of 
the mind may be preferved in their due ex- 
Qw4 ercife. 



232 Self' government ejjential to Wifdonu 

SERM.efcife, and that the nobler afFedions of cAif 
JX» _ nature may have their full force. Any one 
who but a little refledleth on the frame of 
men, Will fee that the underflanding is a 
high faculty, by which we all fuppofe our- 
felves diftinguifhed from the inferior kinds 
of animals ; we value ourfelves upon it ; its 
capacity is large, reaching to a vafl variety 
of objedls J its exercifes are various, and we 
have flrong perceptions of pleafure arifing 
from them. Should we not then exert our 
utmoft power to preferve it free and undif- 
turbed, and to enjoy the ufe and improve- 
ment of it to the higheft degree of perfec- 
tion we are capable of? But the irregula- 
tities mentioned in the lower parts of our 
nature, the vanities and errors of the ima- 
gination, and the extravagancies of the paf- 
lions, tend to darken the underflanding and 
marr its free exercife, as every one's experi- 
ence will fatisfy him who doth at all attend 
to what paffeth in his own mind j and 
therefore, certainly, we ihould with our ut- 
moH: power oppofe thofe diforders which 
obfcure that which is a principal glory of 
our frame. 

Again ; the felf- determining power is an 
excellent one, and a high prerogative of our 
nature. We cannot, I think, but be fenfi- 

ble 



Self-gcuernment ejfeiitial to Wtfdoml 2331 

ble that there is a great dignity and pleafure Serm, 
in the exercife of true hberty, or of adling IX. 
freely according to the beft judgment we can 
make of things j and that it is an abjedl and 
a painful flate of mind, to be driven and 
hurried blindly, without feeing the grounds 
we go upon. Now, a confufed imagina- 
tion and tumultuous paffions tend to dellroy 
freedom j the foul, through their influence, 
is cramped and ftraitened, nay, becometh 
impotent, and fo is deprived of the true and 
fubflantial pleafures of liberty. This is a 
juft reafon for reflfling vigoroufly the ty- 
ranny of lull and paffion. Why do we fo 
highly refent the incroachment made upon 
our freedom by others, and tenacioufly affert 
the right of judging for ourfelves, and a6t- 
ing according to the belt judgment we can 
make, if we will meanly give up that right 
to an ufurping tyrant within, which equally 
taketh away the privilege, namely, liberty in 
adling according to the approbation of the 
underftanding upon a deliberate inquiry, 
which they who are condu(5ted wholly by 
their imaginations and paflions cannot boafl 
of. It is true fuch men boafl of liberty, 
which they place in cailing off the reflraints 
of reafon and confcience, but, indeed, are 
under the bafefl and mofl wretched fervi- 

tude. 



234 Self-government ejjential to Wifdom. 

SERM.tude, while as St. Pd*/^;- oblerveth, 2 epift. 
IX. ii. 19. T^hey are the fervants of corruption^ 
for of whom a man is overcome^ of the fame 
is he brought into bondage. 

Befides, as man was not made wholly for 
the bufinefs and ends of the animal life, like 
the beafls which perifli, he hath feme af- 
fections which carry him to higher ends. 
Every man who is arrived to the exercife of 
underftanding, hath fome fenfe of duty to 
the Deity, and benevolence to his fellow- 
creatures ; in thefe we cannot but approve 
ourfelves, and they yield the higheft fatis- 
fadlion, though in many men fuch fenti- 
ments and affedions are weak and ineffec- 
tual ', but, v/hy ? Certainly, becaufe they are 
overborne by the excefles of other affedions, 
becaufe the lufls of the flefli, the lull of the 
eyes, and the pride of life, are flrong, there- 
fore the love of God and man is weak j the 
generous fentiments of piety and charity al- 
moff ftifled. Now, is it not a deplorable 
condition men are in, when the inferior, 
the brutal defires, are overgrown, tyranni- 
zing in the heart without controul, while 
the nobler affedions, which are the glory 
of the human nature, and carry it to its 
higheft ends, are almoil extinguiflied. This 
Should infpire us with refolution to reflore 

the 



Sclf-gcvern?nc72t ejfential to Wifdcm. 235 

the fovereignty of reaiuii, and recover theSERM. 
rule over our own fpirits. IX. 

And, now, is it not apparent that this is ''^ * 
the moil important coiicein of ours ? That 
this Hberty, confifting in the freedom of the 
mind from the power of its own infirmities, 
and efpecially corrupt appetites and pafiions, 
is worth the contending for with the warmeft 
zeal, feeing it is fo necefiliry to all the great 
purpofes of reafonable natures, all that ought 
to be dear and valuable to us as men, or 
which belongeth to the dignity of our be- 
ing, and the place we hold in the univerfal 
fyftem ? What man is there whofe indig- 
nation would not rife againft the thought 
of degrading himfelf into the condition of 
inanimate things, or of brutes ? Doth it not 
appear, even to our firft thoughts, much 
more worthy, that confcious of the excel- 
lence of our nature we fliould afpire to its 
true perfedlion, and maintain its dignity, 
which is then only done when we are go- 
verned by underftanding and confcience. 
The text reprefenteth the condition of the 
man who hath no rule over his own fpirit, 
as very deplorable ; he is like a city that is 
broken down^ and without ivalls ; the image 
of a weak and a defpicable (late. Such a 
city is expofed to the affaults of its enemies, 

without 



236 Self-government ejfehtial to Wifdom 

S E R M. without any means of defending itfelf, prc» 
IXi ferving its rights, or protecting its inhabi- 
tants : Juft fo is the man in whom reafon 
and confcience have loft their force, and no 
more maintain their dominion ovef the lower 
afFe(5lions ; he is a prey to every temptation^ 
having no defence againft it ; fierce paffions, 
with an impetuous fury, drive him (and he 
hath no power to refift them) juft as ftiips 
are driven by a tempeft. In this cafe it is 
impoflible to attain to wifdom or virtue, 
and to make any progrefs in it, for it is the 
beft exercife of reafon. Religion is a rea- 
fonable fervice, and liberty is eHentially ne- 
cefTary to it 5 for without willingnefs, or a 
free choice (every one is fenfible) there can 
be no fueh thing as religion or virtue. 
Though we may very well conceive moral 
goodnefs, indeed, the moft perfedt, without 
what Solomoti calleth rule over our own fpi- 
rit, or a maftery over paffions and other in- 
firmities; becaufe there is no fuch thing, 
no affedions or difpolitions of a contrary 
tendency in the moft perfedl being ; nor 
doth goodnefs neceffarily include it : Yet in 
the imperfed; ftate of the human nature, the 
meafure of virtue dependeth on, and is pro- 
portionate to the degree of our conqueft over 
the frailties, the felfifh aftedions and paf- 
a fions 



ScIf-gover?wient ejmtial to Wifdcm, 237 

pons of our own minds ; and it may beSERM, 
juftly laid, not only that rule over the fpirit IX. 
hath a connedlion with wifdom in the mo- 
ral and religious fenfe, but that it is the 
very thing itfelf. 

This, my brethren, giveth us juft occafion 
to confider with regret the degeneracy of 
mankind ; Boloimn faith, Ecclef. vii. 29. That 
God made man upright^ but they have fought 
out many inventions. The integrity of our 
nature confifleth in the dominion of the fu- 
perior powers, and the fubordination of the 
appetites and paffions to them ; but it is de- 
formed when, on the contrary, the lower 
afFedtions get the afcendant, and reafon and 
confcience are dethroned, which experience 
as well as the fcripture flieweth to be the 
unhappy cafe of finners who are difobedient^ 
and deceived^ ferving divers lufls and plea^ 
fures, the brutal part ruleth over the man 5 
paffions indulged become untradtable and 
impetuous ; and cuftom in finning is a prin- 
ciple ilrong as nature itfelf. The prophet 
reprefenteth the difficulty of reforming ha- 
bitually vicious and wicked men, by com- 
paring it to a natural impoffibility ; Jer. xiii. 
23. Can the Ethiopian change his Jkin, or 
the leopard his Jpots, then may ye aljo do good 
tvho are accujiomed to do evil? 

But, 



23 S Self'gO'vemjnent ejfential to Wtfdom. 

Serm. But, in the next place, I propofe to our 
IX. ferious thoughts the unfpeakable obligations 
we are under to the mercy of God for the 
gracious contrivance of the gofpel, the prin- 
cipal delign of which is to recover us to li- 
berty, or to felf-dominion ; to reftore the 
jufl; empire of reafon and confcience, and to 
free us from the intolerable and moft igno- 
minious fsrvitude of fin. That which our 
blelTed Saviour intended to lead ns to, is, a 
deliverance from the power of our lufls and 
pafiions, bafe and cruel mafltrs j and though 
we have the principles in our conftitution, 
which, duly improved, might bring us to 
that ftate of freedom, yet conlidering how 
impotent we were become, God faw it need- 
ful, and we are greatly indebted to him for 
it, by a lignal and gracious interpoiition to 
carry on that work. To this purpofe what 
could be better defigned ? God hath fhewed 
US what is good by a clear revelation ; true 
wifdom is taught by a law, not left to be 
found out by reafon, which in the greatefl: 
part of men is weak, and its light very much 
obfcured j and a fandion is added of the 
greatefl force to flrike our minds, and de- 
termine us to obedience. Eternal life is 
promifed to the fnicere, and everlafting de- 
ilrudtion is threatened againfl impenitent fin- 

ners. 



Self-gc^jcrrwmit ejfejilial to Wijdom . 239 

ners. To encourage and animate us in fiiak- S e r M# 
ing off the yoke of fm, and returning to God, ^^^ 
the hope of forgivenefs is confirmed by the 
facrifice of ChrilVs death, in whom God hath 
declared himfelf well pleafed, and reconciled 
to Tinners who obey the gofpcl \ and the fpi- 
rit is promifed and given to help our infir- 
mities, and where the fpirit oj the Lord is, 
there is liberty, 2 Cor. iii. 17. The tendency 
of his afiiilance and operations, and of the 
whole chriftian miniftration, is to refcue Tin- 
ners from the mod reproachful and painful 
bondage of fin, and teach them to rule over 
themfelves, to deny felf, not reafon and con- 
fcience, the power of which is re-eftabliflied 
by the miniflration of the Spirit, but the ex- 
travagancies of paffion, and the irregular de- 
fires of the flefh and of the mind. Let us, 
therefore, having fo great encouragement, be 
prevailed with to ufe our beft endeavours that 
we may more and more underfland and ac- 
cuftom ourfelves to this difcipline, that fo 
making conftant proficiency in wifdom, we 
may enjoy the fruits of it here in plealantnefs 
and peace, and have the afiTured hopes of the 
reward which God hath promifed hereafter 
to the wife, Dan. xii. 3. l^hat they JJo all jliiiw 
MS the brightnefs of the Jirmarnent^ not in out- 
ward fplendor, but true fubftantial glory. 

c S E R- 



[ 24° ] 

SERMON X. 

The Proud and Scornful incapable 
of attaining to WISDOM. 

PROVERBS XIV. 6. 

A /corner feeketb wifdom, andjindeth it 7iot. 

6erm. XF wifdom or religious virtue be the no- 
X. A bleft accomplifhment of the human na- 
ture, moft fuitable to fuch beings as we are, 
in itfelf tranfcendently excellent, and upon a 
comparifon far more valuable than all we 
can defire in this world ; if it will afford the 
trueft and mod: fubflantial pleafures to our 
minds while we live here, and the beft pro- 
fpedl of future felicity in the enjoyment of 
the divine favour, yet without any real dif- 
advantage to our prefent outward intereft ; 
all which I have endeavoured to fhew in 
difcourfing from feveral paflages in this book: 
If, I fay, it be fo, then certainly they who 
are convinced of this, fhould ufe their utmoft 
endeavours in the conftant purfuit of wif- 
dom y they fliould refolutely thwart every 



^he Proud and Scornful^ Sec. 241 

ihconfiflent inclination, and deny whatever S e R M. 
may hinder their attaining it. The greateft X. 
difficulties we have to overcome, in order 
to our acquiring this blefled quality, and all 
its happy fruits, arife from ourfelves ; we 
have fo many felfifli affedions and paffions, 
which being indulged grow to an exorbitant 
height of power, and the tendency of them 
is contrary to virtue, that it will require the 
ilrideft and moft conflant attention to be 
preferved from their corrupting influence, 
I have lately explained felf-government, or, 
as Solomon exprefTeth it, having a rule over 
our own fpirits ; that is, obferving a ftrid: 
difcipline in our minds, keeping a careful 
univerfal watch over our own fenfes, ima- 
gination, appetites, and paffions, fo far as 
they are under the direftion of the under- 
flanding and confcience ; and I fliewed you 
the neceffity and ufefulnefs of this, in order 
to our attaining to, and making proficiency 
in, religion. 

I propofe, in difcourfing from this text, 
to confider particularly the character and dif- 
pofition of the Scorjier, and the obftrudtion 
which arifeth from it to men's becoming 
wife, which you fee Soloynon reprefenteth as 
fo great, that in will defeat all means, and 
difappoint all the diligence men can ufe; 

Vol. III. R for 



242 l^be Proud and Scornful 

S E R M. for it is fuppofed that the fcorner may feek 
X. wifdom, and be at pains for it, and yet ne- 
ver find it. Not that he difcerneth wifdom 
to confifl: in true religion and virtue, and 
feeketh after thefe ; for in a diligent purfuit 
of this kind his labour fhould not be loft : 
But he feeketh after wifdom, that is, know- 
ledge and {kill to make the beft of life ; in 
which he either doth not include religion at 
all, or it is of fuch a kind as will by no 
means anfwer the end : For as to true reli- 
gion, his temper, as we flaall afterwards fee, 
difqualifieth him as much for feeking as 
finding it. 

Let us, fo'Ji, confider the charadler. We 
meet with it often in the writings of Solo- 
mon^ and in other parts of fcripture, by at- 
tending to which we fliall find the following 
ingredients in it : Firft, pridcy which figni- 
fieth an undue defire of honour, or an over- 
valuing one'^s felf, and a joy and triumph of 
heart on account of fome apprehended ex- 
cellence or advantage, with a contempt of 
others fuppofed inferior. To have a juft 
notion of this evil, againft which the facred 
writers inveigh with fo great feverity, re- 
prefenting it as what rendereth men ob- 
noxious to the divine difpleafure, and pre- 
■ cipitateth them into the raoft fatal mifcon- 

dua» 



incapable of aftai?iing to Wifdom, 24.'^ 

du<ft, and indeed into deflrudion ; wemaySERM. 
obferve, that it is a perverfion or mifappli- X. 
cation of an original delire in the human 
nature, that is, the defire of honour, which 
God hath planted in us for excellent pur- 
pofes i for it is of great ufe to our happinefs, 
and a fecurity to virtue. But when the de- 
fire terminateth ultimately, not on the things 
which are praife- worthy, but upon praife 
and refped: feparated from worth, and is 
founded, not on any real excellency, but 
thofe things to which the weaknefs and folly 
of men have annexed efleem, it is then a faul- 
ty ambition j and the overvaluing ourfelves 
upon fuch things, while we defpife others, 
or, in general, upon the apprehended right 
to, or pofleffion of any good efleemed above 
its real nature and ufe, is linful pride. Thus, 
for example, the goods of fortune, as they 
are commonly called, riches and power, be- 
ing the foundations of diftindion among 
men to vv^hich the opinion of the world hath 
affixed the idea of grandeur and magnifi- 
cence ; the natural perfedions of the body, 
as ftrength and beauty j the accomplifh- 
ments of the mind, whether natural or ac- 
quired, fuch as wit and knowledge. In fine, 
whatever is reputable in the eyes of man- 
kind, and particularly thofe we converfe 
R 2 with 1 



244 ^'^^ Protid and Scornful 

Serm. with i thefe are the fubjeds of a fecret tn- 
X. umph and felf-applaufe in the thoughts of 
the proud, and the foundations upon which 
they claim a diftinguifhing refpe<ft, defpi- 
iing in their hearts, and carrying it haugh- 
tily and fupercilioully towards thofe whom 
they apprehend to- be inferior to them. 

To explain this fubjed: more fully, it 
mufl be obferved, that the overvaluing one's 
felf, which is meant by pride, hath a rela- 
tion to fome other beings, and includeth a 
comparifon. And as the fcripture repre- 
fenteth pride under the notion of impiety, 
and the fource of an undutiful behaviour to- 
wards God, Tfrl. X. 4. The wicked through 
the pride of his countenance, will not feek 
after God y this fm doth import too great 
an elation of the mind, too high an efteem 
of one's felf, even upon a comparifon with 
the Deity. Not that any of mankind, or 
any intelligent creatures who acknowledge 
the being of God, do avowedly fet them- 
felves above him, for that would be too 
manifefl an abfurdity; but they entertain 
fuch fond thoughts of their own perfection, 
merit, and fufficiency, as are really incon- 
iiftent with their profefTed acknowledgment 
of his fupremacy and their dependence, as 
derogate from his infinite unparallelled ex- 
cellency, 



vicapabk of attaining to Wifdom. 245 

cellency, and are unbecoming the relation S e r m. 
which creatures bear to him. To fpeak X. 
and to a6l as if our Hps were our own, and 
our powers to be employed wholly for our- 
felves, and by the dired:ion of our own 
wills, without fubordination or any regard 
to his ; as if we lived independently on him, 
and pofTeffed any thing which we did not 
receive from his bounty ; as if we Jiad no 
need to have recourfe to his liberality for 
the fupply of our wants ; as if we had a fo- 
vereign right to difpofe of ourfelves, and 
our own interefts and affairs j or as if we 
were not accountable to him for all our 
adions : This is proudly to exalt ourfelve.s 
againfl Gcd, and to forget that we are and 
jnuft necefTarily be in the condition of frail 
depending creatures. Like this was the pride 
of the angels, who, as St. Jude telleth us, 
kept not their jirft eftate^ but left their own 
habitation; and the apoftle PW reprefent- 
eth it as the caufe of the devil'^ .condemna- 
tion, I 'Tim, iii. 6. Not that it is to be ima- 
gined he ever thought himfelf greater than 
the Almighty in power and perfection, and 
would on that account attempt to dethrone 
him by fuperior force j but in the pride of 
iiis heart, the high conceit of his fufficiency to 
R -5 condu(3: 



246 The Proud and Scornful 

Serm. condudl himfelf, he refufed to be in fub- 
X. jedlion to his maker, and obey his laws. 

2^/y, The pride of mens hearts is difco- 
vered by affecting a pre-eminence above 
their fellows, and a fond prefumptuous opi- 
nion of their own excellency upon a com- 
parifon with them, which really is a rebel- 
lion againft the eftablifhed order God hath 
appointed in the world ; for he hath linked 
us together in fociety, and made humble 
condefcending love the firm cement of it. 
I hinted already what I take to be the juft 
foundation for explaining this, that is, the 
natural defire of approbation and efleem. 
All fin is the perverting that which is right, 
and to have a true notion of the prefent dif- 
eafes of our own finful ftatCj we ought to 
look back to the primitive order of nature. 
Now, I fay, the defire of honour, that is, of 
approbation and efteem founded in good 
offices and the things which are indeed 
praife worthy, is wifely planted in our 
minds by the author of nature, as a fecurity 
of our duty, and to engage us to mutual be- 
nevolence 'y but in our degeneracy it is be- 
come a felfifh defire, and honour is fought 
independently on the true grounds of it, 
which is the very evil of this branch of 
pride : Still, however, there is a relation had 

to 



incapable of attaining to IVijdom, 247 

to moral excellence, which we find ourfelves Serm. 
obliged to acknowledge as the only true ex- X. 
cellence ; and the proudeft man, in his moft 
prefumptuous thoughts of himTelf, valueth 
himfelf on what he imagineth to import a 
capacity, or the appearance of a difpolition, 
to do good of fome kind or other. 

Not to mention any farther the occafions 
of pride, or the apprehended good things, 
whereupon men value themfelves, which 
are more remote from the prefent fubjed:, 
you may efpecially take notice of thefe two, 
which are diretSlly to the purpofe, as tend- 
ing to unfit men for attaining wifdom. 
Firft, there are fome who value themfelves 
much, and claim a great deal of honour on 
account of their underftanding, that is, ei- 
ther their adual knowledge, or capacity of 
inveftigating and difcerning truth ; though, 
indeed, this ground of glorying, or of claim- 
ing refpedl, if it be thoroughly examined, 
will appear a very infufficient one ; for it is 
certain that the mofl enlarged human un- 
derftandings are but weak, and labour under 
many defed:s j the wifeft man mult be itw- 
fible that his knov/ledge is very fcanty, and 
befides the difficulty which attendeth the 
acquifition of it, as Solomon faith, he that 
increafeth kno'ivledge increafcth forrow ; it is 
R 4 hablc 



248 The Proud and Scornful 

S E R M. liable to many accidents 5 a diflemper of 
X. body, or a flroke on the head, may make a 
man of the happieft memory and the cleareft 
judgment, forget his own name ; fo narrow, 
as well as pecarious, is that underftanding 
of which men boaft, and affedl a diftinftion 
by it above others ; though after all, their 
fuperiority will not be always fo heartily ac- 
knowledged as they imagine ; as it is not 
conliftent that a man fhould particularly 
know the points wherein another is wifer 
than himfelf, the generality of people, how-r 
ever envious on other accounts, are pretty 
well fatisfied with their own fliare of this 
talent. And, 

2^/v, Religion itfelf is to fome the fubjed: 
of glorying and vain elation of mind 5 not 
the reality of it, for that excludeth boafting, 
but the appearance. There were people 
zealoufly profeffing religion among the an-' 
cient Jews^ whom the prophet thus defcri- 
beth, and methinks the defcription very na- 
turally marketh them out as fcorners j Ifatah 
Ixv. 5. 'They fay, ft and by thy f elf come not 
near me^ for I am holier than thou. The 
Pharifees, in our Saviour's time, were their 
true fucceffors, a generation whom our Lord 
reprefenteth as far from the kingdom of 
heaven, farther than even publicans and 

Jiarlots \ 



incapable of attaining to Wifdom. 249 

harlots, and this was a principal part oFSerm. 
their charadler, they preteeded to a peculiar X. 
reputation for fandlity, and would have great 
acknowledgment made to them, as the 
ftridlefl devotees of their time and their na- 
tion, not on account of true fubftantial piety 
and goodnefs, which would have given 
them quite other fentiments and difpofitions ; 
they neglected judgment, mercy, faith, and 
the love of God, thefe weightieft matters 
of the law ^ but they had a fiery zeal for the 
ritual parts of religion, ceremonies of little 
importance, and the traditions of the elders; 
they fafted often, paid tithes of all they 
pofTelTed, took care to wafh their hands, 
and their cups, and pots, and tables, and to 
make broad their phila(fteries 5 on this foun- 
dation they pretended to eminent piety. 
When yet our biefTed Saviour reprefenteth 
them as the worft of men, which muft be the 
cafe of all fuch hypocrites as make a religi- 
ous profeffion fubfervient to ambitious views, 
which fincere religion utterly abhorreth. 

As pride, on whatever pretence it is 
founded, is an evil difpofition, it muft be 
judged of efpecially by what palTeth in the 
heart ; prevailing afFedions do firft and moft 
naturally difcover themfelves in the thoughts ; 
that which is moft in their efteem, men in- 
4 cline 



250 ^^^ Proud and Scornful 

Serm. dine mod to meditate upon with pleafure, 
X. and if their ownfclves, or fome imagined 
excellency of theirs, affordeth the mofl 
agreeable entertainment to their minds, and 
they dwell upon it with an inward exulta- 
tion, without taking into the account, and 
coniidering at the fame time, what in rea- 
fon ought to abate it, this evidently fhew- 
cth, if they would attend to it, a fond and 
prefumptuous conceit. Thus NebuchadneZ" 
zar, whofe pride was (o outrageous, in- 
fulting God himfelf, who puniflied him by 
degrading him into the condition of a beafb, 
exulted in his power and greatnefs, when he 
beheld the magnificence of his works, and 
the fplendor of his royal feat. Dan. iv. 30* 
Is not this great Babylon that I have built, 
for the houfe of the kingdom^ by the might of 
my power ^ and for the honour of my Majejiy, 

Again, There are outward figns which 
too plainly indicate the pride of the heart ; 
the very geftures and looks of men difcover 
the vanity and elation of their minds; Solo- 
mon, and other of the facred writers, fpeak 
of lofty eyes, and haughty looks, and pride 
of countenance. It is not pofTible for the 
mod carelefs obferver not to diftinguifh this 
difeafe by fome obvious fymptoms, thofe 
airs of fuperiority which fome afTume, their 

affec- 



incapable of attaijiing to Wifdom, 251 

afFe(5tation of praife, and their behaviour S e r M, 
when it is beftowed on them ; for, as Solo- X. 
mo7i juflly obferveth, Prov. xxvii. 21. As 
the fining pot for fihevy and the furnace for 
gold^ fo is a man to his praife : His eagernefs in 
purfuing, and manner of receiving it, plain- 
ly enough difcover the complexion of his fpi- 
rit; and an infolent behaviour towards others, 
endeavouring to lefTen their charadlers, to de- 
rogate from their worth, and aggravate their 
failings, infulting their misfortunes and ap- 
prehended weaknefs, and an impatience of 
contradidtion ; thefe and the like obvious fymp- 
toms, inftances of felf-fufficiency and con- 
tempt of their fellows, clearly (hew the pride 
of mens hearts J and contentions, animofities, 
wranglings, and difturbing the peace of foci- 
etles for trifles, or matters of fmall moment, 
and merely felfifli and perfonal j thefe are ef- 
feds which muft be attributed to the fame 
caufe, for, as our author faith, Prov. xxi. 24. 
Proud and haughty f corner is his name^ who 
deakth in proud wrath. 

This pride is the firft ingredient in the 
character of the fcorner: Another compre- 
henfive one, ^vhich, I may fay, finiilietli it, 
is contempt of religion and virtue. Some- 
times it is the unhappy cafe of finners, but 
only of thofe who have gone on in a courfe 

of 



2^2 The "Proud and Scortiful 

Serm.oF fin, and been long accuftomed to do 
X. evil, that they at laft banifli the truth they 
long detained in unrighteoufnefs, and get 
rid of thofe principles which were trouble- 
fome when believed, by reproaching their 
wicked pracflices. This they do not arrive 
to fuddenly^ not till having often baffled 
confcience, and by indulging them, given 
fuch a power to corrupt lufts and vicious 
habits, that they overcame all refinance. 
But it is the greatefb height of impiety, and 
an infolent defiance of almighty God, when 
religion and all that is facred, even the eter- 
nal moral differences of good and evil, are 
made the fubjedis of ridicule. There is ob- 
ierved, in the ifl Pfalm, a gradation in evil, 
Bleffed is the man that walketh not in the 
counfel of the ungodly^ nor fiandeth in the 
way of Jinners^ nor fifeth in the feat of the 
fcornful. It is our unhappinefs to tread at 
all in thefe deftrudive paths 3 but it is ilill 
worfe to be fixed and obftinate in them ; 
and worfl: of all is the ftate of that Sinner, 
who is eftablifhed in the fociety of thofe 
"who have cafl: off all reflraint, and openly 
deride all goodnefs. They are fools ^ Solomon 
faith, who make a mock at fin^ divert them- 
felves with it as only a trifling amufement, 
and laugh at the evil of it, and the tremend- 
ous 



incapable of attaining to Wifdom, 253 

ous confequences which grave and ferious Serm, 
perfons talk ofj this is, as he elfewhere X. 
Ipeaketh, f porting with firebrands, arrows, 
and death. The prophet Ifaiah, chap, xxviii. 
22. advifeth the Jews, not to be inockerSy 
leji their bands be ?nade Jirong, left they be 
abandoned, in the righteous judgment of 
God, to the incorrigible hardnefs of their 
impenitent hearts, without any further means 
of being reclaimed, and fo their ill condi- 
tion being remedilefs, they treafure up wrath 
to themfelves againft the day of wrath. 

One of the plaineft defcriptions we meet 
with of thefe fcorners is in the 2d epiftle of 
St. Peter chap. iii. 3, 4. Knowing this, that 
there Jhall coine in the lafi days f coffers, walk- 
ing after their own liifls, and faying, where 
is the promife of his coijiing ? For fince the 
fathers fell afieep, all things, cofitimie as they 
were from the beginning of the creation. 
They fupport themfelves in their impiety, 
and found their contempt of religion, upon 
fomc fort of reafoning, whereby they ima- 
gine they prove that the great motives to 
godlinefs are merely chimerical, and but 
idle dreams; as in the inftancc before us, 
the fcoffers are reprefented as alledging that 
there is nothing at all in the promife of 
God':5 coming to judge the world, to reward 

his 



254 ^f^^ Proud and Scornful 

Serm. his faithful fervants, and to punifh the dlf- 
obedient -, that the hopes formed upon that 
promife are merely vifionary, and that the 
threatenings of punifhment are empty fcare- 
crows i and the argument to confirm this is 
taken from fad, and the experience of many 
ages ; for the promife was made very long 
ago, yet we fee no effect of it, noranyfen- 
fible fign of its accomplifhment ; the world 
goeth on in its old courfe, and things con- 
tinue on the fame foot fince the fathers fell 
alleep ; they feem to be forgotten, and none 
of thefe great things come to pafs, in the 
expectation of which they died j one ge- 
neration fucceedeth another in the fame 
track, and it is like to be fo itill, without 
any evidence of God's interpoling in the 
manner his promlfes import. But fuch fond 
imaginations under the colour and appear- 
ance of reafoning, in v^^hich the fcoffers 
flatter themfelves they fhew an uncommon 
ftrength and genius, courage and freedom 
of thought, the apoftle imputeth to wilful 
ignorance, ver. 5. a ftupid inattention to the 
plaineft and moft obvious truths concerning 
the power and wifdom of God in making 
the world, and difpofing its feveral parts, 
and of his having actually interpofed in the 
government of it, fo direding events in the 
o inanimate 



incapable of attaining to Wifdom, 2 c c 

inanimate creation as to anfwer the ends ofSERM. 
moral government, by diflributing rewards X. 
and punirtiments to men. Whatever the 
particular topic be, whether that of a fu- 
ture ftate, the efiential diiFerence of good 
and evil, a wife, juft, and good providence 
ruling the world, or whatever other impor- 
tant principle, the fpirit and manner of the 
fcorners is the fame 5 entering on fubjedls of 
the greatefl moment with abundance of felf- 
fufficiency, and it may be, a vivacity of 
imagination inftead of a penetrating judg- 
ment, they think by halves, and take up with 
a bare unexamined probability on the fide 
in favour of which they are prejudiced by 
their corrupt afFecftions, or, perhaps, with 
a bold jeft inftead of a folid argument. 

Indeed, their moral charadler, that is, 
the temper of their minds and their condu(5t, 
is of eifential confideration to give us a jufi 
notion of the fcorners. St. Peter faith in 
the place already mentioned, they walk af' 
ter their own lufts. And St, Jiide^ fpeak- 
ing of the fame perfons, whom he calls 
mockers, and the apoftles of Chrift foretold 
they fhould come in the laft time, he de- 
fcribeth them thus, they walk after their 
own ungodly lujis^ they are fenfual, not having 
the fpirit. It is certain mens afFe<flions have 

a great 



256 The Proud and Scornful 

Serm. a great influence on their underftanding, an(J 
X, go far in forming their judgment of things j 
they are eafily induced to imagine that true 
which they are fond of, and very unwilling 
to difcover a truth which mufl reproach 
them, is contrary to their interefts, and will 
give them uneafinefs in a courfe they are re- 
folved to purfue. This is diredlly the cafe 
of a vicious man, with refpedt to religious 
inquiries, or feeking after wifdom. The 
truth lieth againft the intereft of his lufts 
and wicked habits, which he cannot, or ra- 
ther will not, bring himfelf to a refolution 
of forfaking, and therefore is ready to catch 
at any pretence whereby he may counte- 
nance his continuing in them. If there be 
reality in religion, if there be a neceffary 
and mod important difference between mo- 
ral good and evil, both in their nature and 
confequences, the finner muft be felf- con- 
demned, and therefore he maketh a hard 
fhift to get rid of fuch troublefome princi- 
ples, and at lafl to confound light and dark- 
nefs, good and evil, fo to draw iniquity with 
the cords of vanity y as the prophet fpeaketh, 
Ifaiahv. 18. Or, to be encouraged in his 
wicked ways by frivolous deceitful pretences, 
till at lafl he arriveth to the utmofl height 
of fcorning, bidding defiance to ^Almighty 

God, 



incdpahle (f attaining to tVifJonu ^57 

God, as it followeth, ver. 19. Let bim make Serm* 
fpecdj and haft en his ivork that we may fee ify X. 
and let the counfel of the holy One of Ifi^acl 
draw nigh a?id come^ that we may know it. 
Thus I have explained to you the char?.(fler 
of the fcornerj which is a compofition of 
pride, a contemptuous difbelief and rejec- 
tion of the principles of religion, and obfli* 
nacy in vice. I proceed in the 

Second place to fliow that it is, and mufl 
neceflarily be the greateft obftrudlion to 
mens becoming truly wife j infomuch, that 
if the fcorner (as tlie text faith) feeketh wif 
dom, yet he findeth it not. And this will 
eafily appear, if we attend to the particulars 
already mentioned. Firft, it is plain that 
pride is a great hinderance both to the at- 
tainment of knowledge and virtue; who- 
ever hath a high conceit of himfelf, on 
whatever account it is, if he hath an excef- 
five value for any endowment, quality, or 
advantage of any kind, he is pofTefTed of, he 
will defpife not only other men, whom he 
looketh upon as his inferiors, in that point 
which he efleemeth fo juflly diilinguifhing^ 
but he will defpife other things which yet arc 
acknowledged by a great many, indeed, 
the generality of men, to be very valuable 

Vol. III. S and 



25S ^he Proud arid Scornful 

S E R M. and pralfeworthy. He that valueth himfelf 
X- upon his riches, will defpife another who 
boafteth of high titles, a noble defcent, or 
fome fuch diftinguifhing privilege; and 
both of them have a very low opinion of 
the wife and virtuous man, as a limple, a 
weak, or a mean-fpirited creature, not ca- 
pable either through the weaknefs of his 
underflanding, or a filly fcrupuloufnefs, to 
make his way in the world fuccefsfully, or 
to make any figure in life. The man with 
whom wifdom is in fuch contempt is not 
likely to find it ; though he fhould ufe fome 
diligence to acquire the reputable part, or 
rather the external appearance, yet the reali- 
ty of wifdom, which is religious virtue, 
meeknefs, godlinefs, patience, felf- denial, 
and charity, thefe are defpifed by him : 
How then can he find them ? for wifdom 
loveth only them that love her^ and thofe only 
Jhallfindy whofeek her early , Prov. viii. 17. 

But, more particularly, the man who is 
proud of his wifdom and his religion, is the 
fartheft off from becoming truly wife and 
religious. His high conceit of his own fuf- 
ficiency, and of his great capacity and ac- 
quifitions, rendereth him indeed uncapable 
of, and difinclincd to, the only proper 
means whereby that real excellent quality 

can 



■vr 



iricij^ahle of difiii?ihig to Wifdcm. 259 

tan be attained ; and therefore Solo?no?i ex- S ejr M. 
horteth the perfon who would hope to be a 
proficient in true wifdom, 7iGt to be njoife in 
his own eyes J nor lean to his own underjtand" 
ing^ ProV. iri. 5, 7. And St. Taid telleth 
OS, I Cor. viii. ^hai knowledge puffcth up^ 
but charity edijicth ; and if a man thinkcth 
he knoweth a?iy thing (fb as to be conceited 
of his knowledge) he knoweth 7iothing yet as 
he ought to know. And GaL vi. '^, If a 
man think himfelf to be fomething (a perfon 
df gi'eat weight and confideration, by reafoh 
of hrs great attainments, and fit to prefcribe 
to others in the matters of religion) while he 
is nothing (no fuch perfon) 7^^ decetveih him- 
felf : By the pradice of modcfty and humble 
condcfcending charity, we Ibould have rhuch 
more ground of rejoicing and glorying in our- 
felves. What V/as it that made tlie fcws, and 
efpecially the proudeft (cO, of them, the Pkd- 
rijees, fo untradtable to the inftrudi'ons of our 
Saviour, and fuch enemies to the fimplicity 
of the gofpel ? It was evidently the pride of 
their hearts, and the high conceit they had 
of their own knowledge and fanxflity. Our 
Lord plainly telleth them they were fo 
much under tKt power of worldly and 
ambitious views, and had it fo much at heai't 
to maintain the apphsmfe of men, as perfons 

S 2 of 



2^0 The Proud and Scornful 

Serm. of the greatefl eminency, that this was the 
X. very caufe of their infidelity, o: reje<5ling 
his rehgion, which taught the profeflbrs of 
it to purfue fubftantial ^oodnefs and the ap- 
probation of God, not the efteem of the 
world ; for hoWy faith he, John v. 44, can 
ye believe J who receive honour one of another ^ 
and feek not the honour that cometh from God 
enly. And John xii. 43. Some of the chief 
rulers believed in Chrifi^ were convinced in 
their hearts that the dodlrine he taught was 
true and divine, yet they did not own that 
convidion, nor confefs him to be the true 
Meffiah, as they really believed he was, for 
they loved the praife of men more than the 
praife ofGody and therefore would not ex- 
pofe themfelves to excommunication and 
the reproach of apoHacy, which at that time 
eould not be avoided by any who would 
embrace the chriftian religion. 

The fame reafon for which Chrift cru- 
cified, or the do6lrine of the gofpel, was to 
the Jews a ftumbling-block, made it to the 
Greeks foolifhnefs. As the former proudly 
endeavouring to e^abiifh a righteoufnefs of 
their own by their own performances, would 
not fubmit to the righteoufnefs, or the me- 
thod of jullification or acceptance with God, 
which is by faith. So to the other who 

valued 



incapable of attainhig to Wifdofn. 2.6 1 

valued themfelves upon their philofophy Serm. 
and their eloquence, their fcicnce fo called, X. 
which was then in great reputation, fuch a 
fimple inflitution as that of chriflianity, (o 
plain, accommodated to the weakeft capa- 
cities, without any fliew of learning, taught 
by illiterate men who fought not their own 
honour, nor at all attributed the contrivance 
or the fuccefs of their dextrine to any fkill 
and wifdom of theirs, but wholly to God : 
To thefe proud conceited Greeks, I fay, fuch 
an artlefs inftitution as that of the gofpel, 
appeared very contemptible. And, in ge- 
neral, that it muft be fo, that the pride of 
men, a high conceit of their own wifdom 
mufl: hinder them to become truly wife, is 
evident, becaufe it marreth diligence and 
impartiality, without which no man can be 
fuccefsful in his enquiries, nor attaiji to un- 
derflanding in any thing. The fcorner will 
not admit a fufpicion of any error ; the opi- 
nion and the fchemes of religion he hath 
embraced, however wrong and faulty in 
themfelves, have a great advantage to re- 
commend them to his efteem, becaufe they 
are his own, and they arc now no more to 
be fubje6led to a new examination : To dif- 
cover an error would be an affront to hiin, 
and he ftandeth too fair with himfelf to fub- 

S 3 niit 



^()2 ^he Proud and Scornful 

Serm. mitto it; and what need is there of any 
^' more diligence in fearching ? he hath formed 
his judgment of things, and the meafures of 
his condud:, with a fufficiency of knowledge 
and prudence. Farther, as this difpofition 
naturally groweth upon men when they do 
not fet themfelves in oppofition to it, and 
take proper methods to lubdue it, it muft 
at laft effectually defeat all means of inllruc- 
tion and amendment, becaufe it maketh the 
jfcorne): impatient of admonitions and re- 
bukes. So Solomon often telleth us, that the 
fcorner heareth not reproof, that he hateth 
it, and the perfon who in the friendliell 
manner oifereth it to him ; and it is con- 
cerning perfons of this temper, that our Sa- 
viour warneth his difciples, that they fliould 
prudently avoid laying the wife admonitions 
pf the gofpel before them, left they (liould 
not only be defeated by their incorrigible 
obftinacy, but be the occalion of brutifh 
violence and contempt, which he exprefteth 
thus. Matt. vii. 6. Gii^e not that which is 
looly unto the dogs, neither caji your pearls 
before fwine J left they trample them under 
their feet', and turn again and rend you. 
The man who is fo far engaged in the in- 
tereft of his vices; and fo wholly under their 
power, that even his underftanding is cap- 
' z tivated 



incapahk of attalnuig to Wijdom. 263 

tivated, and he denieth and defpifeth the Se r m- 
firft principles of religion and virtue, feem- ^ X.; 
eth to be altogether incurable j ail the ave- 
nues of his foul fhut up, that wifdom can- 
not enter 5 and the proud impious imagina- 
tions he hath fet up in its place, are an im- 
pregnable defence againft it. 

Befides, this perverfe difpofition rendereth 
men obnoxious to the difpleafure of God, 
and entirely difqualified for receiving favour 
from him, efpecially that great favour of in- 
flrudtion, fuch a perfect gift as wifdom, 
which Cometh dowji frof?i the father of lights, 
Prov. iii. 34. Surely he f cornet h the fcorners, 
but giveth grace unto the lonidy j he will deal 
with the infolent defpifers of his glorious 
perfe(flions and fovereign dominion accord- 
ing to their wickednefs. Other finners dif- 
obey, but they defy him ; they are repre- 
fented elfewhere in fcripturc, as faying, Who 
is Lord over us ? and^ loe are lords y ive icvV/ 
come no more unto thee. The proud are in a 
very peculiar manner, and above all others, 
the enemies of God, therefore he refifteth 
them, as the apoftle James iv. 6. interpret- 
eth the words of Solomon jufl now menti- 
oned. Seeing then the fcorner rendereth 
himfelf fo utterly uncapable by wicked pre- 
judices, unfitting his own rational powers 

S 4 for 



264 '^he Proud and Scornful 

Serm, for their proper exercife in a fair enquiry 5 
X. ^ and feeing by his wickednefs he fo provoke 
eth God, grieving his fpirit who teacheth 
men, and giveth them underftanding, how 
is it poiTible he fhould find wifdom ? 

All the application I fliall make, is only 
to exhort you to humility, as a mofl ne- 
cefTary qualification for your increafe in ufe^* 
ful knowledge, and in every chriftian vir- 
tue 5 God giveth grace to the humble. There 
IS no difpofition more becoming our reli- 
gious profeflion and character as difciples of 
Chrift, who hath commanded his followers 
to imitate him, and learn of him, for that 
he is meek and lowly in heart, and declared 
that one of the befl preparations for enter- 
ing into his kingdom is humility, which he 
reprefenteth by the emblem of the harmlefs 
innocence and unambitious fimpHcIty of a 
child, Matt, xviii. 3. having called a little 
child, and fet him in the midft, he faid^ 
except ye be converted and become as little 
children, ye Jhall not enter into the kingdom 
of heaven, JVhofoever, therefore, fiall hum-^ 
hie himfelf as this little child, the fame is 
greatefl in the kingdom of heaven. 

There may be miftaken notions concern^- 
ing this as well as other chriftian virtues, 
|t is far from confifling in any fuch fenti-r 

me-nts 



incapable of attaining to Wijdorn, 265 

ments as difparage the human nature, or S e r m. 
any fuch temper and behaviour as are un- X. 
worthy its dignity ; we muft not degrade 
ourfeh'es into a lower fpecies that we may 
be humble men j that is rather to unman 
ourfelves : nay, we ought to contend for the 
privileges of our being, for the freedom 
which belongeth to us as men, in the uf^ 
of our reafon for direding our condudl, an4 
all other common rights ; to betray and 
give them up to any invader, is abjeft bafe- 
nefs, and no virtue at all : And as the apo- 
ftle, Ro7n. xii. 3. exhorteth every man not 
to think of hitnfelf more highly than he ought 
to thinky but foberly, humility doth not re- 
quire any man to think more meanly than 
the truth. But with refped to God, it con- 
fifteth in a juft fenfe of our own fubjedion 
and dependance, of our own weaknefs and 
guilt, that we may be ready to yield him 
that obedience and refignation he claimeth, 
and to comply with thofe methods for our 
inflrudtion and falvation he prefcribeth j and 
with refpedt to men, it confifteth in a due 
regard of their common rights, and to thofe 
which belong to every one in particular, ac- 
cording to their feveral relations, and their 
valuable and ufeful abilities, qualities, and 
^pcomplifhrnents of any kind, without en- 
croaching 



266 The Proud and Scornful ^ &c. 

S E R M. croaching upon them, or derogating from 
X* them; or from the honour and good offices 
they juftly claim, according to the laws of hu- 
manity, juftice, and charity. This difpofition 
and behaviour diredly oppolite to that of the 
fcorner, as it will entitle us to the favour of 
God, and the approbation of all good men, for 
before honour is humility^ d^nd. pride goeth before 
a fall; and our Saviour telleth us, Luke xviii. 
14. Every 07ie that exaltcth himfdf J]:all be 
abafedy and he that humbleth himfelf Jloall be 
exalted^ fo it will preferve an inward equa- 
nimity and felf-fatisfadlion, free from thofe 
tempefts and furious tumults of mind to 
which the pride and paffions of men always 
expofe them, and is the fureft way to grow 
in every valuable quality, and particularly, 
to grow in grace ^ and in the knowledge of our 
Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrijl^ 2 Fet, iii, 
28. 



SER- 



[ 267 ] 

SERMON XL 

Attending public Instruction, 
and other inftrumental Duties, 
recommended. 

PROVERBS VIII. 34. 

BJtjfed is the man that heareth mCy watching 
daily at my gates, waiting at the fojis of 
my doors. 

I Have endeavoured in fome difcourfes, S e r m. 
from feveral palTages in this book, to lay -^^ 
before you the neceffary qualifications for 
our attainining true wifdom or religious vir- 
tue, and fet againft them the greateft hin- 
derances, which muft be removed ; particu- 
ly infilling on the prevailing love of wifdom, 
diligence in the ufe of all proper means for 
acquiring it, a difpaffionatc temper of mind, 
and humility. It is certain that our vehe- 
ment irregular affedlions and paflions do 
moft unhappily obftruA our growth in grace 
and faving knowledge, and nothing more 
^han pride and affedtation, I might have 

enlarged 



268 Attending public InjiruBion^ 

£ E R M. enlarged on other particular Vices which the 
^I' author hath hinted in his Proverbs, as ob- 
ilrudions to wifdom, fuch as cowardice, or 
an undue fear of men, lafcivioufncfs, intem- 
perance, covetoufnefs, and wrath, which 
do all of them darken the mind, marr its 
progrefs in any kind of valuable knowledge, 
weaken its force and expofe it a prey to 
temptations ; but fome of thefe have been 
occafionally touched upon, and fuch general 
rules of felf-government laid down, as, if 
duly applied, might be a defence to us 
againfl them all. 

What I intend at this time, is, to re- 
commend the careful ufe of thofe folemn 
means, which God hath graciouHy inftituted 
for our attaining to religious wifdom ; and I 
think the text giveth a juft occafion for it ; 
Solomon reprefenteth wifdom as a divine per- 
fon, making a public appearance in the 
world, fetting up a court, or rather a fchool, 
fending out her miniflers, inviting men, even 
the mofl rude and ignorant, to become her 
difciples, by which they may hope for great 
advantage. I know not what can be more 
naturally underilood by all this, than the 
gracious deiign God hath formed and exe- 
cuted for recovering men from their igno- 
rance, corruption, and mifery, and bringing 

them 



atid other Dudes, recojjTmendcd. 260 

them into the way of virtue and happinefs, Ser M, 
by an exprefs revelation and pofitive inflitu- XI. 
tions, which he hath pubHfhed to them with 
all necefTary folemnity. However amiable 
and excellent wifdom may appear to con- 
liderate minds, in her moft fimple and na- 
tural form, and whatever force there may 
be apprehended in reafon to overcome pre- 
judices againft the things which are pure, 
and jufl, and true, and honeft, and virtuous; 
yet mankind were become fo degenerate, fo 
univerfally depraved, even dead in trefpajjes 
andjins^ that to reclaim them there need- 
ed, and we ought to efteem it an invaluable 
advantage, and a very great favour that there 
is granted, a fpecial interpofition of hea- 
ven, a plain and direct call from God by a 
pofitive law, with encouragements beyond 
what human understanding could devife, 
and affiftance above the mere force of na- 
ture. The divine revelation hath indeed ap- 
peared in different forms, and the laft is the 
moft perfed:, I mean the gofpel, Heb. i. i, 
2. God ijoho at Jundry times^ and in divers 
viamierSy fpake in tinies paft unto the fathers 
by the prophets^ hath in thefe laji daysfpoken 
unto us by his Son, And we may be fure the 
moft complcat fyftem, with the greateil ad- 
vantages of every fort, the mofl powerful 

fan^^ion 



2^0 Attending public InJiruBlon^ 

Se R M. fandion to enforce it, the clearefl: inftrudlory,' 
XI. and the purefl manner of adminiftration, 
as well as the moft convincing evidence of 
its troth and divine authority, vvere v^^orth;^ 
of fuch a meflengef . 

But I will confider the open appearance 
of wifdom and the public plan of her doc- 
trines and rules, abftra<5tly from what is pe- 
culiar in any dilpenfation. The fefped: 
which is due from men, is, to heart afid 
the text pronounceth them blefled who do 
{o. Their duty is farther thus exprefled, 
tvatching daily at the gates of wifdotn, and 
^waiting at the pojls of her doors. As the 
gates and avenues to the houfes of the great 
are filled with retainers, as fervants, fubjedts, 
vaflals, and other dependants (according to 
the various diftincSlions of men in higher 
or lower ftations) who are continually 
thronging thither to pay their homage, and 
to prefent their petitions 5 and as fcholars in- 
tent upon learning, diligently attend public 
ledures, and all other means of teaching, 
{o we ought to make our court to wifdom, 
and be mofl folicitous to embrace every op- 
portunity of admiffion into her favour. It 
will be no difficulty to underftand the par- 
ticulars which are reprefented by this allu- 
fion, that is, the inftromental duties of re- 
ligion. 



afid other Duties y recCmmended. 271 

ligon, purfuant to the eflabllflied methods of S e r M. 
inflrudion which God hath appointed, fuch ■^^• 
as fearching the holy books, the ftanding 
record of the divine doftrine and laws, which 
God himfelf often enjoineth, and it hath 
been fuccefsfully pradlifed by the beil; pro- 
ficients in wifdom ; the attending opportu- 
nities of public inftrudion, not forfaking the 
cjfeiiihling ourfelves together, as the apoftle 
diredeth, Heb. x. 25. and afliduity in prayer 
for that illumination, which God hath pro- 
mifed by giving his fpirit to thejn that cijk. 
But I fhall not purfue the detail of thefe 
particulars, which are obvious to every one 
who knoweth the method God hath taken 
in revealing his will, and the forms of fervice 
he hath prefcribed. I will endeavour in this 
difcourfe to fhew you, 

I. The reafonablenefs of attending all the 
inftituted means of our inftrucflion. 

II. The refped: of wifdom, which is im- 
ported in hearing. 

III. The proper difpofitions of mind, 
and the manner of hearing and ufing 
all means, lignified by ijoatching daily 
at the gates of ijoifdom^ and ivaiting at 
the pojis of her doors. 

Brfi, 




Attending ptthlic InJlruBion, 
Firft, To fhew the reafonablenefs of ouf 
attending all the inftituted means of inftruc- 
tion ; and this will eafily appear to any con- 
fiderate perfon : If God had never vouch- 
fafed to men a pofitive revelation, if wifdom 
had never criedy nor tinder jlandiiig lifted up 
her voice in that manner to the children of 
men^ if we had never known any thing of 
her but by the foft whifpers in our own 
breafts, that fenfe of moral goodnefs and 
excellence, which we feel whenever we at- 
tend to it, though it is in the generality of 
men very much overborne by the tumults of 
the imagination, by vehement feliifli paf- 
lions, and evil habits ; if, I fay, it were fo, 
we fhould have been obliged, under all the 
difcouragements and difficulties which at- 
tend our prefent frailty, to feel after virtue 
if happily we might find it^ as the apoflle 
fpeaketh of mens feeking God by the light 
of nature, Adis xvii. 27. And it is furprizing 
to what length fome have arrived without 
the help of \ki2X grace which bringeth falva-- 
tion^ and hath appeared unto us. But when 
it hath pleafed God to eredt a kingdom ia 
the world, when we have laws publiflied, 
examples, promifes, divine affiftance, when 
there is a public adminiftration whereby we 
are called to glory and virtue, and the divine 
3 power 



and other Duties ^ recommended. 273 

power hath given us all things which per- Serm- 
tain unto \iic and godhnefs j for us to be ob- XI. 
ftinately unattentive, like the adder that ftop- 
peth her ear and will not hearken to the voice 
of the charmer^ charming ever fo wifely y as 
the Pfalmift expreileth the obduracy of fin- 
ners, Pfal. Iviii, to treat all the offers God 
hath made us with negledt, and the means 
he hath appointed for our reformation, with- 
out fo much as repairing to the courts of his 
wifdom, or ufing any of the methods pre- 
fcribed for our inftrudtion and amendment -, 
this furely is great ingratitude, a heinous con- 
tempt of God's authority, an affront to his 
love, and it mufl be inexcufablc folly fo to 
negledl our own true intereft. Yet how 
many are there who iliew a wretched in- 
difference to the means of their fancfliii ca- 
tion and falvation, chooiing to fpend their 
time in amufement, or wholly about the 
affairs of the prefent life, while the folemn 
invitations of wiidom, the feajl fe hath 
prepared for their entertainment, -^.^ Solomon 
reprefenteth the provilion which divine grace 
hath made for the fouls of men, in the ixth 
chapter of this book, while, I fay, thefe 
invitations are contemned as if they were 
mere trifles ? But fuppofing men fo far fen- 
lible of the refpedt due to a divine revela- 
Vox. III. T tion. 



274 'Attending public lnJiru5iion^ 

S E R M. tion, that they attend the publifliing it, 
XI' and ufe the outward means God hath ap- 
pointed for their Inftrudion, a great deal 
more remaineth yet to be done, that they 
may be entitled to the bleffednefs here pro- 
nounced by Solomon, to thofe who hear 
wifdom. It is not merely an outward at- 
tendance the word of God demandeth, 
many who pay it that refpe^t, and even 
profefs to believe it, yet receive the grace 
of God in vain ; I^ will therefore proceed 
in the 

Second place, to confider what is imported 
in hearing. And let us obfervc that the 
fcripture reprefenteth this as the fum of that 
duty and refpedl which God demandeth for 
Chrift who is his wifdom, and the great re- 
vealer of his will to mankind. In one of 
the moft celebrated prophecies of the Old 
Teflament, concerning the Meffias, this is 
expreflly required with great folemnity, and 
under the moil fevere penalties, Deut, xviii. 
15. .I'he Lord thy God will raife up unto 
thee a prophet fromthe midft of thee, like unto 
7ne (faith Mofes)unto himjloallye hearken; al- 
moil the fame words are repeated in iJer, 1 8. 
and in the 19th it is added, and it Jlmll come 
to pafs, that whofoever will not hearken unto 

2 ^iy 



ctid other Dutjes, recotnttiendeH, ty^ 

fny words which he Jlmll [peak in my name^ /SermJ 
will require it oj him. When the S6n of God -^** 
appeared in flefh, and entered upon his pub- 
lic miniflry, a voice from the excellent glory, 
as St. Peter ^ an eye and ear witnefs calleth 
it, recommended him to fome of the 
apoftles, and by their teftimony \j6 the 
world \ti this manner, Mat. xvii. 5. T^his ii 
my beloved Son, in whom I am ioell pleafed; 
hear ye him, Thtis it is apparent that what« 
ever is meant by hearing Ghriit the v/ifdom 
of the Father, or hearing that lafl: and moft 
perfedl revelation God hath given of hil 
mind to the world,- it is" enjoined and en- 
forced with all the authority and obliga- 
tory power with which any divine precept 
can be enforced. By Mofes God made his 
will known to Ifrael^ and gradually pre- 
pared the way by predictions and types for 
the compleat fcheme of revealed religion 
in the gofpel, which is the cleareil call of 
wifdom to the children of men. Mofes 
who was to be regarded by the people of 
God, as an infpired teacher, foretelleth the 
coming of another great prophet, the au- 
thor of a new difpenfation, and dsclaretht 
before-hand, in the name of God, that he 
was to be hearkened unto under the highefl 
penalty for contempt and difobedience j and 
T 2 whcii 



■276 ■ Attending public InftruBlon, 

Serm. when this divine mefienger adlually canae 
XI. into the world, God himfelf, by an exprefs 
voice from heaven, commanded men to 
hear him. 

Now, hearings in the text, and other pa- 
rallel declarations of fcripture, importeth a 
ferious and attentive confideration j not mere- 
ly the ufe of the external fenfe commonly 
Signified by that word, but principally, a 
diligent application of the mind to under- 
iland the important contents of the divine 
inefTage. Our bleffed Saviour, in his para- 
ble of the fower, Matt. xiii. reprefenteth 
fome hearers of the gofpel by the fimilitude 
of ground by the way- fide, fo hard, being 
conftantly trod upon, that the feed doth 
not enter into it, but is catched away by 
the fowls J which he thus applieth to the 
carelefs unattentive profelTors of religion; 
they hear indeed, but imderjland not the 
ivord of the kingdojn 5 the72 cometh the wicked 
o?ie, and catcheth away that which is /own 
in their hearts. Their not underftanding it 
is not a fimple ignorance arifing from inca- 
pacity, ,or fpoken of without any regard to 
the caufes of it ; for it is plain our Lord in- 
tendeth to lay blame on fuch hearers, and 
to charge them with guilt, which he could 
not do, if their ignorance proceeded altoge- 
ther 



and other Duties, recommended. 277 

ther from a defccfl of natural capacity ; or, Serm- 
which is the fame thing in this refpeft, that ^^ 
it equally vindicateth them from guilt, the ^ 
want of fufHcient perfpicuity in the gofpel, 
when compared with the rational powers of 
thofe to whom it is direded. But, by not 
underftanding, is meant not confidering, 
which' hath juft the fame efted with igno- 
rance as to any good improvement j or, 
however, no other ignorance is meant, than 
fuch as is the fruit of inattention, which ex- 
perience flieweth us it very often is. It is 
very plain that the beft ufe we can make of 
our underftanding, is in a clofe and vigorous 
attention ; and our progrefs in ufeful know- 
ledge dependeth more upon this than any 
thing elfe we can do. External informa- 
tion, and hearing, in the mofl obvious fenfe, 
is at firft neceifary, and may be afterwards 
very ufeful, but inward application of the 
mind, and fixing its thoughts upon the im- 
portant objeft, is more univerfally profitable. 
This is always within the reach of our own 
power, and without it the other will make 
no impreffion, nor can we obtain any be- 
nefit by it. 

This is what we are, in the firft place, to 

underftand by hearing j an attentive regard 

to inftrudion. Amidft the amufcments of 

T 3 » 



'$,tj^ jiff ending public InJlfuBion^ 

S^RM. a vain world, and a variety of voices found- 
XI. ing in pur ears, and calling .us different ways^ 
the wifdom of Gpd Jla^th the firft right to 
be heard, and ^yhat he prefcribeth, to be at- 
tended to. A great and neccflary point is 
then gained, apd a foundation laid for our 
obedience} for as one fatal, and, indeed, 
yery general caufe of djfobedience, js inat^ 
tention, when once we are delivered from 
^hat, a quite contrary courfe pay be ex- 
pedted. There can be little doubt but reli- 
gion will make way for itfelf and prevail^ if 
we let it fo far into our hearts, as to give it 
a fair hearing. It may be juftly faid, no 
juan was ever impious and wicked upon 
inature deliberation ; and to fay otherwife is 
to affront religion, and in effed: to fay the 
diredly contrary to what the apoftle affirm- 
eth, that if is a reajonable fervice. But 
ifhough in fad: a great many who heat and 
profefs religion, are fo hardened through 
the deceitfulnefs of fin, that no impreffion 
is made upon them, it is, we will acknow- 
ledge, a reafonable demand on behalf of di- 
vine wifdom, and particularly of the great 
prophej: whom Qod hath fent into the 
yrorld, that we fhould liften to and feri- 
pufly confider what he faith j and that we 
lliould try whether there be fuch truth and 

fuch 



and other Duties^ recommended. 279 

fach importance in his dodlrines and pre- S e r m," 
cepts as is pretended. The chriftian reve- XI. 
lation is far from requiring the aflent and 
obedience of men without inquiring ; on the 
contrary, the firfl: teachers of it always ad- 
drelfed themfelves to the underftandings of 
men, and appealed to their reafon, defiring 
every one candidly to examine, and to judge 
for himfelf J and particularly in the xviith of 
the ABs and nth verfe, the Berea?is are 
greatly commended, as fhewing a more no- 
ble fpirit than others, in that they received 
the word with all readinejs of mindy that is, 
not without examination, but upon a full 
trial, and after fearching carefully whether 
thofe things were Jo as the apoflle repre* 
fented them. 

2^/y, Hearing fignifieth a fubmiffive dif- 
pofition, receiving with a fuitable deference 
what our heavenly Father is pleafed to re- 
veal to us, giving it fuch an entertainment 
as the nature of the things revealed feverally 
requireth. To hear, is to turn at the re^ 
proofs of wifdom, to tremble at the threat* 
nings of God, to hope in his promifes, and 
pradife what he enjoineth j and, in general, 
that we may give fuch a becoming enter- 
tainment to every declaration of his will, we 
muft believe them all ; Nor is this a blind 
T 4 and 



280 Attendmg public InJiruSlion,- 

SERM.and irrational perfuafion, but fuch as we are 
XI. determined to by the highefl and bell evi- 
dence, having fiiil impartially examined, 
and been fatisfied concerning the characters 
and proofs of a divine revelation. There 
cannot be a more certain principle than this 
upon which our faith refteth, it is impoffibk 
for God to lie. He can neither be deceived 
himfelfj nor deceive us ; but he that hath 
received the tejiimony of Ckrifl (to whom 
God beareth witnefs by many figns and 
wonders) hath fet to his jeaU that God is 
true J John iii. 33. An implicit faith our 
Lord juilly claimeth, that we fliould take 
upon trufl whatever he hath revealed, refl- 
ing on his infallibility, and cajting down 
imaginations^ and every high thing which 
exalteth itfef againft the knowledge of God. 
Whatever difficulties there may appear in 
the fayings of divine wifdom from the pre-- 
jjidices of men, whatever irregular lulls and 
pallions may fuggell in oppofition to them, 
we ought to be in the humbleft manner re^ 
figned to our great unerring teacher. Many, 
indeed, of our Saviour's hearers were of- 
fended at his dodrines and fpiritual precepts; 
they objeded that his fayings v/ere hard ; they 
afked how thefe things could be, and they 
forfook him. But it is only our prejudices 



and other Duties, recommended. 281 

and paliions he requireth us to deny, thatSERM. 
we may be his difciplcs ; not our reafon, -^I* 
for to that he teacheth nothing contrary. 
Certain it is, God doth not require us to be- 
lieve a contradidion or abfurdity, or what 
appeareth to be fo to our own undeiftand- 
ing upon an impartial inquiry, it being im- 
poffible that we fhculd really believe it ; and 
to imagine that chriftianity containeth any 
fuch thing, is to reproach it and its bielTed 
author. If, for example, any one fliould 
impofe upon us, under the pretence of di- 
vine authority, fuch af principle as tranfub" 
Jtantiation, which containeth a manifefl ab- 
furdity, and deftroyeth the very foundations 
of liuman knowledge, as we could not pof- 
fibly aff;^nt to it with underftanding, we 
ought not to profefs it. It is the fuggeflions 
of corrupt appetite and paflions, the incli- 
nations of the carnal mind, which is •en- 
mity againft God, we ought to deny, in 
order to the obedience of faith, not the 
principles of reafon, which are originally 
from God, and as truly as revelation is. 

We ought, however, to make a differ- 
ence between the teachers of divine truth ; 
fuch as God hath fealed, and given them 
fufficient credentials of their miffion from 
him, fhould be fubmitted to, and their 

dodjine 



2^2 Attending public InftruEiion^ 

Seplm. do6lnne received without referve 3 but the 
XI. inflru(Sions of all other teachers ought to 
be examined and copipared with the authen- 
tic declarations of a well-attefled revelation, 
and no farther received than as they are 
founded upon inquiry, by every one judging 
for himfelf, agreeable to them. And thus 
our Saviour, the author of our religion, 
hath taught us to diflinguifh between him 
and others, Matt, xxiii. 8. He will not al- 
low his profefTed followers to be called, or 
to call any man rabbi^ mafter, and that be- 
caufe one is their teacher and mafter, even 
Chrifl. To allow men an equal authority 
with him, or which is in efFedl the fame, 
to regard them as infallible interpreters of 
his mind, is to deny him. An implicit 
faith in him, is what he requireth from his 
difciples, and is the very fpirit of chriftia^ 
nity ; an implicit faith in mep is the bane 
of it. 

Lafll)\ Hearing wifdom importeth an ab-- 
folute unreferved obedience. A multitude 
of inftances might be produced to fhew that, 
according to the ftile of the facred writers, 
this is the fenfe of hearing God 5 and that 
for this good reafon, becaufe obedience will 
be the certain effed: of hearing, as it hath 
been already explained. If we hear witl^ 

^ttentioft 



and other Duties^ recommended. ^83 

attention and reverence, impartially andSERM. 
without prejudice, our n>inds will then fay JCI. 
to the Lord, /peaky for thy Jefvant hefireth-, 
and as Saul did at his converfion. Lord, 
what wilt thou hcfve me to do ? J\.Cts yii. 6. 
I am ready, without delay op cpnferring 
with flefli and blood, to follow tfjy dif edion, 
and no fooner fhall I be favoured with an 
intimation of thy will, than I fhall imme- 
diately prepare myfelf to do it. This rer 
fpedt to Chrift our fupreme teacher, I take 
to be that wherein a truly chriftian difpofi- 
tion doth confift, the very fum of our duty, 
at lead that which God will accept, but no- 
thing lefs, according to the grace of the 
gofpel. pefeds there may be, no doubt 
there are, even in a heart thus difpofed, 
through remaining ignorance and infirmi- 
ties ; but when fuph is the habitual prevail- 
ing temper, the foul hath confidence to- 
wards God, as being one who fincerely 
heareth his wifdom. Sincerity is to be de- 
termined by the prevalence of good afl?ec- 
tion$ againft the contrary ; that is, fincere 
love to God which prevaileth againft the 
}ove of the world 5 and fo we then fincerely 
hear Chrift, when it is the fixed governing 
purpofe of our hearts to follow him, what- 
ibever may call or folicit ps to the contrary. 



284 AttendiJig public Inftrii5fion^ 

Serm. I^" all men upon earth fhould prefs us to 
XI. what, upon the befl: inquiry we can make, 
appeareth difagreeable to his will, we ought 
to forfake them and follow him 5 if our pre- 
fent intereft, and the moft importunate in- 
clinations of the flefh, fliould direct us one 
way, and he another, we mufl renounce 
them, and cleave to him. I come, in the 

ThtrJ place, to confider the proper dif- 
pofitions of mind, and the manner of hear- 
ing and ufing all means, lignified by ivatch^ 
ing daily at the gates of wifdom, and 'wait- 
ing at the pojis of her doors. And, firft, it 
importeth a fenfe of our conflant need of 
inftrudion, that we may be ilill making 
farther progrefs in knov/ledge and in grace. 
it is not enough that we have once entered 
into the courts of wifdom, and are liited 
among her votaries, that we have given a 
refpedful attention to her laws, and even 
obeyed them ; there is a neceffity of re- 
newed continual application j and that, un- 
latisfied with the prefent meafure of our at- 
tainments, we fliould daily endeavour to 
make farther proficiency. The wifeft and 
beft men are mofl: fenfible of their defeds, 
and therefore, after the example of Mofes 
and Ddvid^ they inceflantly pray that God 
^ would 



and other Duties, recomj7ie7ided. 285 

would ficw them his glory, and teach them S e R M. 
his way. The apoftle reprefenteth to us XI. 
the genuine fpirit of a chriftian, in the ac- 
count he giveth of himfelf, moft worthy of 
our imitation, Phil. iii. 12, &c. Not as tho^ 
I had already attained, or were already per- 
fetl J but 1 follow ajter, that I may appre- 
hend that for which I am alfo apprehended of 
Chrift Jefus. Brethren, I count not myfelf 
to have apprehetided ; but this one thing I do, 
forgetting thofe things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto thofe things which are 
before, I prefs towards- the mark, for the 
prize of the high calli7Jg of God in Chrifi 
fefus. If this be the temper: of our minds, 
it will incline us to a daily attendance at the 
gates of wifdom, that is, a daily ufe of the 
appointed means for our increafe in know- 
ledge and virtue. There is a rich treafure 
of important truth in the facred oracles, 
which, by fearching and a regular dihgence 
in the ufe of appointed means, may be found 
out, and ufefully applied for our advancing 
to perfed:ion in religious virtue ; and the di- 
vine Spirit, who prcfideth over means, and 
gives them efficacy, intcrpofeth by his gra- 
cious influence, co-operating with the facred 
inftitutions, whereby they become efFedtual ; 
which being the earnefl exped;ation and hope 

of 



^S6 Attending public InfruBion, 

SERivi. of fincere chrifliahS, engageth them to i 
XL conftant attendance. Befidcs a growth in 
knttwledge, which is earneftly defired, as 
being the foundation of increafe in every 
good quality^ and abounding inl every good 
work, vve ate fo apt to let divine truths flip 
out of our minds, that We need to be often 
ftirred up by way of remembrance^ Which 
is one proper end of the holy miniftrations : 
For this it was that the apoftle Peter wrote 
both his epiftlesj as he telleth ns in the 3d 
chapter of his fecond epiftlCj and ifl verfe ; 
and he deelareth it to haVe been the proper 
buiinefs of his apoftolic office, as long as he 
lived, to flir up chriftians, chap. i. 12, J 3. 
Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you 
always in remembrance of thofe things y though 
ye kmiv them^ and be eftablijhed in the prefent 
truth : yea, I think it meet^ as long as I am 
in this tabernacle^ to fiir you up, by futting 
you in remembrance. But flill, a religious 
pradice, what our Saviour calleth good 
fruits, the fruits of righteoufnefs and cha- 
rity, and the apoflle defcribeth as works 
which are good and profitable to men, thefe 
are the great end of facred miniflrations, 
and fhould be our end in attending them. 
Then are we the true difciples of wifdom, 
and watch at her gates not in vain, when 

we 



and other buties, recommended. 287 

We conftantly purfue the defign of reform- S e r m. 
ing our lives, ilrengthening good difpofi- ^2.' 
tions, corred:ing bad ones, and that we 
may abound more and more in the fruits of 
righteoufnefs, 'which are, by Jefus Chrijl, to 
the glory of God. 

2dly, Our watching at the gates of wif- 
dom, and waiting at the pofls of her doorSj 
that is, the regular performance of the in- 
ilrumental duties of religion, requireth a 
conftant care and folicitude that the benefit 
of them may not be loll -, and, particularly, 
a ftrid vigilance over our own fpirits and 
our whole behaviour. They who wait at 
the doors of the great, are always ready to 
embrace every occafion of getting their bu- 
llnefs done, their liomage paid, or their pe- 
titions prefented} they will not amufe them- 
felves with trifles, negleding their chief con- 
cern, that would be very indecent in fuch 
circumftances, and foolifh. When we go 
up to the houfe of God, to the folemnities 
of public worfhip, or ufe any other means 
appointed for our inftrudlion, we ought tD 
confider ourfelves as fervants in waiting, 
and to be wholly taken up in the bufinefs of 
our prcfent fervice, attending with earnefl 
defire and a refolution of ready obedience, 
every fignification of our mafter's will. Be- 
hold, 



28 S Attending public InJiruBion, 

SERM,hoU, faith the Pfalmift, Pfal. cxxiii. 2. aS' 
XI. the eyes of /ervants look unto the hand of their 
mailers^ and as the eyes of a maiden unto the 
hand of her mijirefsj fo our eyes wait upon 
the Lord our God. But every one who re-, 
fledieth on himfelf, will find, by experience, 
it is no fmall difficulty to preferve fuch a 
temper of mind, to watch all the avenues 
of the heart, and keep it with diligence, as 
Solomon advifeth, to prevent the incurfions 
of vanity, and reftrain the wanderings of the 
imagination, fo that the fervice of God may 
be performed, and the proper defign of it 
purfued without diftradtion. 

'^dly. We have need of patience, which 
alfo is fignified by waiting. Our progrefs 
in religious knowledge and virtue is gradual. 
God hath been pleafed to accommodate his 
methods of inflrudion to our weaknefs j as 
little children are taught the firft rudiments 
of knowledge very flowly, and the fame 
things muft be often repeated and inculcated 
to make an impreffion upon their minds 5 io 
the prophet reprefenteth the divine con- 
defcenfion in communicating ufeful truths 
and precepts to thofe who are flow of heart 
to underftand and receive them, Ifa. xxviii. 
10. For precept muft be up07i precept y pre- 
eept upon precept^ line upon line, line upon 

line. 



and other Duties ^ recommended, 289 

line^ here a little and there a little. So we Se R M^ 
ought to attend with unwearied affiduity XI. 
the means of religion, till we obtain the be- 
nefit of them. I do not fay we fliould be 
patient of any thing that is finful in our- 
felves, for that is not the proper objed: of 
patience j and it is certain there is fin in our 
imperfedlions and infirmities, intended to be 
cured by the prefcriptions of wifdom j yet . 
patience is the character of a contiiHiance in 
well doing, as well as of enduring afiiidions, 
and while we have many difficulties to 
ftruggle with, arifing from temptations and 
from our own frailty, wc ought not to 
weary and faint in our minds, for that 
will end in unaftive floth ; the gates of 
wifdom will then be unfrequented by us, 
or we fhall repair to them without earn- 
eft defire, without fpirit and refolution, 
whereby our attendance will become unpro- 
fitable to us. Very often indeed fo it is, 
that little fenfible advantage is obtained by 
the means of Felisiion, which is always 
chargeable on ourfelvcs; for the means are 
in themfelves, well fitted to their proper end. 
Any one who ferioully confiders them, will 
fee that this is particularly the charad:er of 
the chriftian infi:itutions. But from what- 
ever caufe it ariletb, there is a danger of the 
Vol. III. U fervice 



200 Attending public tnJiniSiion, 

S E R M. f^i'vice of God's being infipid and burthen-^ 
XI. fome to us, and of our being indifferent 
and fpiritlefs in it, againft which we fliould 
guard with the utmoft care, and always en- 
deavour with alacrity and vigor to ufe the 
means of our rehgious inil:ru<5tion and im- 
provement. 

Let us, my brethren, very ferioufly confi- 

iider this important declaration in the text, 

± 

that they are blefTed who hear 'U)ifdom^ 
ivatching at her gates, and the pqfls of her^ 
doors. If wifdom be in itfelf an excellent 
attainmentj the very perfection and integri- 
ty of the human nature, if its ways be 
pleafantnefs and peace, and will entitle us 
to a great future reward, then certainly we 
jfhould feek it with the greateft earneftnef9, 
cry after it, as Solomon fpeaketh, and ufe 
diligently all proper means for attaining 
k. As they are blelTed who hear, on the 
contrary, they make themfelves unhappy 
who defpife inflrudiion 5 as it is faid at ver. 
36. of this chapter, in the name of wifdom, 
He that fmneth againft me, wrongeth his own 
foul -y all they that hate me, love death-, and 
yet more fully, in the firft chapter of this 
book from the 24th verfe, the miferable 
effedis of fuch defpite to wifdom are laid 
before us, becaufe I have called and ye re- 

fiift^> 



and other Duties J recommended, 291 

fufed^ I have fir etched out fny hand, and no SerM. 
man regarded it ; but ye have jet at nought XI. 
all my counfelsj and would ?2one of my reproofs 
1 will alfo laugh at your calamity^ and mock 
when your fear cometh ; wheji your J ear com-" 
eth as defolatioft, and your dejlrubiion as a 
whirlwind, when diftrefs and ajiguifij cometh 
upon you j then fijall you call upon tnc, but 
I will not a?ifwer 'j they fijall feek me early, 
but fi:all not find me ; for that they hated 
knowledge, afid did not choofe the fear of the 
Lord; they would none of my counfel, they 
dejpifed all my reproof-, therefore fi all they 
cat of the fruit of their own way, and be 
filled with their own devices. Thefe tlireaten-' 
ings in their full meaning are .certainly 
intended againfl: obftinate incorrigible lin- 
ners ; but even lower degrees of difre- 
fped; to the appointed means of inftruc- 
tion are faulty, which yet do not amount 
to an utter hatred of knowledge and rejec- 
ting the fear of the Lord. As it is very 
plain that Chriflianity rcquireth our aflem- 
bling together for the purpofes of woribip, 
I cannot but obferve, that fome chriflians 
negledling it fo much as they do, flieweth 
too great an indifference to the injun<flions 
of our Lord, and to the defign of fuch 
aflemblies. This is fo much the rather to 
U 2 be 



202 Attending public InftruBion, &c. 

SERM.be taken notice of becaufe it hath for fome 
XI. time been growing among the proteftants 
of our dendmination. Perhaps fome may 
think they cannot exped any great im- 
provement in knowledge by the public in- 
flrudlions j yet their declining them is an 
offenfive example, tending to bring them 
into difefteem and difufe among others who 
both need and may receive information by 
them in matters of the greateft moment. 
Belides, a well-difpofed mind may bear (and 
think it no difagreeable entertainment) to 
be ftirred up by way of remembrance, by 
the repeating and inculcating ufeful truths. 
And coniidering the many avocations we 
have from pious exercifes, it may not be 
unprofitable for the beil and wifeft, jointly 
with their fellow-chriflians, at fet-times to 
engage their folemn attention to the things 
of religion, and endeavour to excite good 
affedions in themfelves, which may contri- 
bute to their defence againfl the returning 
temptations of the world. On thefe ac- 
counts, I cannot but wifh, for their own 
fakes, and for the common edification of 
the churches, that chriftians were more ear- 
ned and conftant in attending the public 
inftrudions of wifdom, a7jd 'isoatching at her 
gates, 

S E R- 



[ 293 ] 

SERMON XII. 

Walking with Wise Men, a Means 
of attaining to WISDOM. 

PROVERBS XIII. 20. 

He that walketh with wife men^ JJ^all be wife. 

I Have propofed to your confieratlon, from Serm. 
feveral pafTages in this book, fome ne- XII. 
celTary qualifications and rules in order to 
our attaining true wifdom, and to our efla- 
blifhment and growth in it : The lafl I in- 
fixed on, was, the diligent ufe of the means 
God hath inftituted for this end. Divine 
wifdom crieth, and imderjianding hath lift- 
ed up her 'voice, as this author fpeaketh, 
that is, God hath given a gracious revela- 
tion of his will, fent meflengers into the 
world, and eftablifhed a public order for the 
inftrudtion and reformation of men ; and 
on our part the mofl: fubmiflive refpe(ft 
is due to his appointed method ; hearings 
watching at the gates of wifdotn, and wait" 
ing daily at the pofts of her doors ; or a 
U ^ reverent 



294 Walking ivith JVife Men, 

S E R ivi. reverent attendance on the folemnities of re- 
XII liglon, receiving Vv^ith a fincere purpofe of 
^''^'y'^ conforming our lives to it ; all w^hich we 
fhall find upon an impartial enquiry to be 
the W\\\ of God, and hoping v^^ith an earneft 
expectation, and patient waiting, for the in- 
valuable benefits he hath promifed to com- 
piunicate to men by the methods of his 
grace. 

I propofe now to confider it as a good 
expedient for our becoming virtuous, and in- 
creafing in virtue, that we fhould deiigned- 
ly, and of choice, affociate with virtuous 
perfons, and fhun as infedious the fociety of 
the wicked. ^He that walketh with wifi 
men J fi:all be wife, I fl:iall, 

I. Endeavour to fhew you what it is to 
walk with wife men, in the fenfe of 
this text. 

II. The influence of it to our attaining 
wifdom. 

Firft, What it is to walk with wife men ^ 
and I take it to fignify, that we fhould chufe 
perfons of that charader for our intimate 
friends, and voluntarily join in their company 
and converfation. A man may be carried, 
pr forced to go, contrary to his inclinations ; 

but 



a Meajis of attaining to JVifdom. 295 

but walking is the motion which oneSfiRM, 
choofeth. As the general tenor of a man's Xll. 
defigns, and the courfe of his free ad:ions, 
is, by the facred writers, defcribed under 
the notion oi his ivalk-, to walk with a 
perfon, in their ilile, denoteth a friendly- 
communication and delightful fociety, tak- 
ing him into our councils, intimating our 
difficulties to him, feeking his advice, an4 
depending on his aid. 

Thus it is, that the fervants of God walk 
with him, and, in proportion to their capa^p 
city of mutual good offices, fo they walk 
with one another. It followeth then, that a 
mere involuntary prefence with the vicious, 
or being unwillingly deprived of the fociety 
of the good, is not a trefpafs againft the 
rule here recommended. The iirft of thefe 
cafes will not make us thofe companions of 
the wicked, v/ho are threatened with de- 
llrudion in the lail words of this verfe, the 
companion of fools JJjall be dcftroycd ^ nor is 
the other, being neccffjrily and unavoidably 
deprived of the fociety of good men, a 
culpable neglect of the means to get wif- 
dom. Providence may appoint a good man's 
flation among linners, perhaps, for the 
trial of his integrity, or that he may be a 
wUnefs againft their crimes. Noah had the 
U 4 affli'^ioiA 



296 Walkhig with Wife Men^ 

6 E R M. afHicflion to be in a world of the ungodly, 

XII. when a mighty torrent of iniquity and pro- 
fanefs brought on a flood of waters which 
overthrew their foundation^ as it is exprefTed 
in the book of Job ; and juft Lot lived in 
Sodom ^ wh^rt his right eoits Joul ivas vexed i?i 
feeing and hearing every day, the filthy con- 
verfation of the wicked. Surely it was not 
imputed to thefe excellent perfons as a fault 
that they did not walk with wife men, when 
there were no wife men for them to walk 
with ; and fo far from being the guilty com- 
panions of fools, who {hould perifh with 
them in one common deftrudion, God 
marked them out to a peculiar falvation ; 
and having made their hearty but ineffedtual 
remonftrances againft the prevailing wicked- 
nefs of the times and places they lived in, 
they were preferved from the ruin which 
came like a whirlwind on finners by an ex- 
traordinary divine interpofition. 

Again, fometimes the beft men converfe 
familiarly with the wicked, and it is ne- 
ceflary for them to do fo, yet without a 
participation in their crimes. On the con- 
trary, it is their delign and afliduous endea- 
vour to convince the unrighteous of their 
errors, and reclaim them from their follies. 
Thus our .Saviour converfed with publicans 
3 an4 



a Means of attaining to Wifdom. 297 

and finners, though he was holy, harmlefs, S e r m, 
tmdefikd, and feparate from finners. This XII. 
was indeed imputed unto him as a fault by 
the Pharifees, who placed religion wholly 
in external forms, and valued themfelves 
upon an appearance of fandlity, whereby 
they were diflinguifhed from others, whom 
they fupercilioully defpifed i but our Lord 
vindicateth his condudt upon the very beft 
principles, the moft perfedl zeal for virtue, 
and charity to men. After him, the apo- 
ftles, imitating his example, and infpired with 
his fpirit, laboured inceflantly for the con- 
verfion of an ignorant and a corrupt world ; 
and inftead of being infeded with the folly 
of thofe they converfed with, they were the 
fuccefsful inftruments of making many wife 
and turning them to righteoufnefs. 

Befides that noble defign which religion, 
far from difallowing, urgeth us earneflly to, 
as the very beft we can purfue, I mean, to 
endeavour by wholfome counfels, as well as 
a good example, the converfion of finners 
from the error of their way ; befides this, 
I fay, the prefent ftate of human affairs 
requireth that we affociate with men of 
all characters. Civil communities, fo ne- 
cefTary for the prefervation of order and 
peace in the world, are made up of good 

and 



29S Walking with Wife Men, 

S E R M. and bad 5 good offices of fellow citizens, and 
XII. a corefpondence for the pupofes of fociety, 
are not appropriated to the wife, though it 
is certain they are the mofl ufeful members, 
in proportion to the meafare of their wifdom 
or virtue. 

Nay, in nearer relations, fcarce is there 
any fo happy as to be free from the company 
oi fools \ even families are feldom fo well 
conftituted but that the virtuous are joined 
in thern with the froward and vicious j yet 
in fuch cafes it doth not become immediately 
our duty to difcharge ourfelves with violence 
from the obligation, and break off all oc- 
cafions of fuch correfpondence ; on the con- 
trary, the fcripture, in fuch a cafe, prefcribeth 
patience, meeknefs, and compaffion to the 
evil. The apoftle diredleth chriftians to 
carry it fo to their fellow profeiTors of the 
gofpel, whofe immoral lives difhonour it, 
as to teftify an abhorrence of wicked prac- 
tices, and to preferve themfelves from in- 
fedtion by ill example, i Cor. v. 1 1 . I have 
written to yoti, not to keep company^ if any 
man that is called a brother (that is a chrif- 
tian) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an ido-. 
later, or a drunkard, or an extortio7ier, 
with fuch an one no not to eat : He carrieth 
fo far as to the avoiding, v/hen it can be 

donCj 



i 



a Means of attaining to Wifdom. 299 

done, the offices of civil friendfliip withSERM. 
fcandalous chriflians 3 not that we (hould XII. 
imphcitly follow the decrees of the church, 
and fliun the company of thofe flie excom- 
municateth ; but every man judging for 
himfelf, purfuant to the rule in my text, 
is for his own fake to avoid the intimate 
conversation of thofe whom he plainly feeth 
to be wicked, that fo he may efcape the 
contagion of fin : And yet when the apoftle 
diredteth chriflians to fhun the company of 
the vicious, that mufl not proceed from ill 
will, nor fhould be attended with bitter 
wrathful reproaches, and marks of contempt, 
which are very oppofite to the fpirit of chri- 
ftianity ; it fhould rather flow from a cha- 
ritable defign to reclaim the offender, for 
thus he elfe where direcfteth, 2 7/6^ iii. 14.. If 
any man obey not our ivordby this epiflle (that 
is, the moral precepts of the gofpel which he 
had recommended) note that man and have 
no company with him^ that he may be ajhamedy 
yet count him 7iot as an enemy, but admonijh 
him as a brother. But in the place before 
referred to, i Cor, v. the apoftle plainly 
flieweth, that he did not mean to forbid all 
kind of correfpondence with, or denying 
the offices of humanity to bad men, only 
that we fliould for the honour of our pro- 

2 feffion 



300 Walking with Wife Men, 

Serm. fefHon difcountenance vice in profefled chri- 
XII. flians j for faith he, at the loth verfe, not 
altogether (to abilain from the company of) 
the fornicators of this worid, or the covet- 
ouSy or extortioners, or idolaters, for then 
muft ye needs go out of the world. 

On the other hand, it is not to be fup- 
pofed that the mere advantage of any man's 
providential fituation will entitle him to 
the benefit of walking with wife men. His 
lot may be with the bcft and moft virtuous J 
without any good defign on his part, or I 
without any other views than to his fecular 
intereft, and therefore without any advantage 
to his obtaining wifdom. The queen o^ Sheba 
celebrateth the felicity of Solomon's fervants, 
becaiife they flood before him, and heard his \ 
wifdom ; but if any of them was not in- 
duced to make that happy ftation his 
choice, from a defire and profped of in- 
ftrudlion in virtue, but merely for the ho^ 
nour and outward emolument which attend- 
ed his place, there was nothing praife- 
worthy in his being fo near that wifeft of 
men, nor did it fhew any difpofition to be 
wifer and better. 

Upon the whole, to underftand what it 
is to walk with the wife, we muft return 
to what I faid at firfl 3 it is voluntarily to 

aflbciate. 



a Means of attaining to Wijdom, 301 

aflbciate, and of choice enter into intimacies S e r m. 
of friendfhip with them. The general in- XII. 
clination of mankind df -ermineth them to 
fociety, and this natural inclination exerteth 
itfelf not only in forming particular aflbci- 
ations, fuch as civil communities larger and 
lefler, and families, for fpecial ends in life ; 
it engageth us to converfe together for mu- 
tual fatisfadion. Thus we find, univerfally, 
men of all capacities and conditions fliew a 
defire of converfation, though very different, 
according to the diverfity of their tafles, 
occafioned by education, degrees of under- 
ftanding, prevailing affecStions, and outward 
circumftances. There is none even in the 
loweft ftation, and of the weakeft under- 
ftanding, and whofe difpofition to fociety 
hath been the leail improved, but incline to 
company of feme fort or other j none of 
fuch a contemplative genius, or that can 
befb entertain himfelf in folitude with his 
own meditations, and even the higheft plea- 
fures of felf-refledion and devotion, but that 
he needeth converiation both for his im- 
provement and pleafure. There is no man 
fo full of himfelf, and who hath fuch a 
high conceit of his own fufficiency, and 
contempt of others in comparifon with him- 
felf, but he will find himfelf obliged, fo 

flrong 



302 Walking with Wife Meriy 

Serm. flrong is this propenfity of human nature, 
-^^■*-' to defcend fometimes from his heights of 
pride and vanity, to a friendly communica- 
tion with his fellows. 

But this general inclination, or inftindt I 
may call it, exerteth itfelf freely, and, as I 
obferved before, with a great difference ^ 
and it is the agreeablenefs of character and 
difpolition which diredeth our choice. The 
fenfual, the men of bufincfs, the curious 
triflers, the learned, and the pious, join 
with one another, and take pleafure in con- 
verfing together. To walk with wife men, 
then, or with the virtuous and good, is to 
iingle out perfons of that character, in pre- 
ference to all others, for our intimate com- 
panions. 

And, in the next place, it mufl: import 
the improvement of converfation for the 
purpofes of wifdom. If men of that cha- 
radler, in any inftances depart from it, and 
converfe fooHflily, fpending their time in 
trifling vanity, or much of it in an indiffe- 
rent manner, about the affairs and innocent 
amufements of life, as often they do, in fo 
far they do not walk together as wife men, 
or to the purpofes of wifdom ; though I do 
not fay that, in all the cafes mentioned, 
they ad: inconliflently with their general 

character ; 



a Me am of attaining to Wifdont^ 303 

character i and, no doubt, the flridtefl vir- Serm. 
tue alloweth them, at proper times, to con- -^^I* 
verfe together about worldly affairs and law- 
ful recreation ; but what 1 think the text 
chiefly importcth is, that wifdom and virtue 
fliould be the principal fubjed, and the main 
delign of their focial communications. 

Farther, it follows, that in all our volun- 
tary aflociations, even thofe which are en* 
tered into for the purpofes of this life, our 
choice fliould be determined with a regard 
to virtue, and fuch perfons taken into our 
company as are wife, fo far as the ties of 
nature and providential circumflances wiU 
allow. A good man may have his lot afiigned 
him by providence among the wicked, and 
in that cafe it muft be his endeavour to pre- 
ferve his integrity j but he would make it his 
choice rather to be in a place where he fliould 
be lefs expofed to temptations, and where 
the pradlice of virtue is not difcouraged, but 
promoted rather, by well-difpofed fociety. 
A wife man may have domeftic alfociates 
of a contrary character, as parents or chil- 
dren ; but in voluntary relations he fliould 
be careful to enquire into the difpofitions of 
the perfons he joineth with, and his care in 
this fliould be proportioned to the intimacies 
of the friendfliip to be contra<5ted. Sokmon 

himfelf 



'^04 Walking with Wife Men, 

Serm. himfelf was not wife enough in the affinities 

XII. he made, by fome of which he was en- 

fnared and drawn away from the paths of 

wifdom. His pious father made an excellent 

refolution, Ffal. ci. 4, 6. Afrowdrd heart 

Jhall depart from me, I will not know a wicked 

per f on. Mine eyes f mil be upon the faithful 

of the land, that they may dwell with me. 

Thus I have endeavoured to (hew you what 

it is to walk with wife men in the fenfe of 

this text ', I come, in the 

Second place, To confider the influence 
and efficacy of it as a means for our attain- 
ing wifdom. It is certain that company 
hath a great (hare in forming the tempers 
and manners of men, experience abundantly 
demonftrateth it. Any one who is acquainted 
with the world, and hath made it his bu- 
iinefs to ftudy mankind, will fee that their 
way of behaviour, even their likings and 
averfions, depend in a great meafure on the 
fociety they have been the moft converfant 
with J and this goeth fo far as to their moral 
difpofitions j I do not fay neceffarily and uni- 
verfally, for there are fome io obftinately 
wicked and perverfc, as to defeat the efficacy 
of the beft converfation and example, as well 
as all Other means for reforming them ; and 

fome 



a Means of attaining to Wifdom. 305 

fome rare examples of virtue, who haveSERAt. 
made a fuccefsful ftand againft the ftrongeft XII. 
temptations, and maintained their unrpotted 
innocence againft the infe(5tion of the worll: 
company, the prevailing corruption and im- 
piety of the worfl times and places wherein 
they have hved. But, generally fpeaking, it 
is not fo 'j which is fufficient to our purpofe, 
that is, to Ihew that walking with wife men 
is one ufeful means of acquiring wifdom, 
and to keep company with fools is the way 
to be corrupted. 

But to explain the nature of this influence 
more particularly, I think it muft be attri- 
buted to two caufes j iirft, a defire to be 
agreeable to thofe we familiarly converfe 
with J and, fecondly, the force of example. 
Firft, a defire to be agreeable to thofe we 
converfe with 5 and this we find to* be very 
powerful in human nature. Who is there 
of mankind that doth not love approbation ? 
A great part of our adtions are thus only to 
be accounted for, without any profpecfh of 
advantage to ourfelves ; nay, when we are 
fure of difadvantage to our private interefi:s, 
and when the bed principles of adlion are 
very weak and little regarded, we do a great 
many things merely to pleafe others, and 
gain their efleem. Intereft is denied, even 

Vol. III. X life 



3o6 Walking with Wije Men, 

S E R M. life facrificed, and confcience proftituted for 
XII. this end. Very often the defire operateth 
ilrongly in fecret, and when we ourfelves 
do not attend to it ; but if we narrowly exa- 
mine a great part of our condudl, we fhall 
find there is no other reafon to be given for 
it. In the modes of living and outward de- 
portment, which take up a great deal of 
our thoughts and cares, what other view is 
purfued than conforming to cuflom ? what 
other rule than fafliion, which has really no 
other flandard than the general approbation, 
or the judgment, it may be, the humour 
and caprice of perfons who are more emi- 
nent, and therefore efleemed. The original 
defire itfelf was planted in the human nature 
for excellent purpofes, and, if duly regula- 
ted, is very ufeful to engage us to one an- 
other fpr our common advantage, and to 
direct and flrengthen us in the pradlice of 
the focial virtues. The defire of approba- 
tion rifeth yet higher in ferious and thought- 
ful minds, who have a jufl fenfe of the di- 
vine majefly, believing that he feeth them, 
and is perfe(5lly acquainted with all their 
ways, even the moft fecret motions of their 
hearts, and therefore form their difpofitions 
and condudt to pleafe him. This is what 
the fcripture calleth 'walking with God, and 

walking 



a Means of attaining to Wifdom, 3 07 

^walking before him-, and in proportion asSERM.' 
this inftind of nature exciteth itfelf towards XII, 
all intelligent beings with whom we are 
converfant, and in whofe prefence we arc, 
their afFedtions and characters mufl have a 
great influence in the forming of ours, whe- 
ther they be good or bad. And thus it ap- 
pearcth that the choice of our intimate 
friends, to whofe obfervation we lay our- 
felves and our manner of life moft open, mufl 
very much contribute to the forming of our 
difpolltions, and regulating our whole be- 
haviour. 

But, 2dly, this is to be attributed to the 
force of example. As the pronenefs of man- 
kind to imitation is very well known, good 
examples are propofed to us in fcripture as 
an help to the practice of religion. The 
apoftles call upon chriftians to be the fol- 
lowers of them, whofe lives are indeed 
bright patterns of every thing that is pure, 
and true, andjuft, and honeft, and lovely; 
and they fet before us fhining precedents in 
the lives of the ancient faints, that being 
compared about with fo great a cloud of wit ^ 
nejfes^ we may lay afide every weighty and 
the fm which doth eafily befet us^ and run the 
race fet before us. If we confult experience, 
we may fee the force of example in others, 
X 2 and 



jqS Walking whb Wife Men, 

Se Ri^. and feel it in ourfelves ; the things to whiel^ 
^JI« we were merely indifferent, perhaps difin- 
clined, or thought them fcarcely pradicable, 
when we fee them done before our eyes, we 
are immediately inflamed with a deiire of 
doing them ourfelves. As to the pradice of 
virtue, in particular, the influence of exam- 
ple may be thus accounted fory it is ren- 
dered familiar to us, and appeareth very 
amiable when fet before us in fuch a lively 
and affedlng manner. As a good pidture 
ftriketh the mind v/ith a greater force, and 
giveth a more hvely idea of the obje(5l x^ 
prefented by it,, than any defcription by 
words can do ; fo to reprefent religion in pre* 
cepts, doth not fo powerfully move the af- 
fections as when we fee it delineated in life. 
The beauty of holinefs mufl: appear very great 
to any one who underftandeth it, and power- 
fully attract the de fires j but in the pre- 
fentimperfedlion of human nature, and whenv 
we have fo many contrary inclinations, this 
prejudice lieth againfl it, that it feemeth 
extremely difficult,, which prejudice is re- 
moved by example j for we are thereby 
convinced, that it is not a lovely phantom, 
made to entertain a curious imagination, but 
that there is a reality in it, and that it is 
pradlcable in human life. The example of 

God. 



/7 Memts of aitatning to Wijdom, 3*c^ 

God is propofed to US' in fcripture as theSERWt. 
moft unexceptionably worthy of our imita- ^-ff • 
tion J be ye hol)\ faith the Lord^ as I am 
holy ; and the example of Jefus Chrift, which 
Cometh nearer our cafe, for it fheweth us 
virtue pratftifed to perfedlion in the human 
nature j and all that humility, meeknefs, pa- 
tience, refignation, zeal, and charity, which 
he recommendeth to ils, fhewn to us in life, 
under the greateft trials and moil grievous 
fufferings : But ftill it feemeth to be a kind 
of excufe for our coming far fhort of that 
perfedl pattern, that we have many frailties, 
irregular defires and pafTions, from which 
he was alto2;ether free. And therefore to 
cut off all handle of that fort, all pretence 
whereby we might imagine ourfelves dif- 
charged of the obligation, we i fee the rules 
of religious virtue reduced to pradice in meri 
of like paffions, who alfo were compaJJ'ed 
about 'with injirmities. Though their ex- 
ample is but imperfe(ft, yet it is very worthy 
of our imitation, and moft fenfibly reproach- 
eth our failures. Muft it not carry ftrong" 
convidliion to fee men, naturally weak as we* 
are, liable to the fame temptations, to va-' 
nity, fenfual affedtions, pride, fear, and 
wrath J to fee thenri conquer their moft ve-' 
hement felfi/h defires, and their ftrongeft paf- 
X 3 fions ? 



310 Walking with Wife Men, 

S E R M. fions ? What pretence can there be for our 

XII, defedts ? they had as exquifite a fenfe of 
pleafure, of pain, of profit, and lofs, of ho- 
nour and difhonour, as we; yet have over- 
come their mofl violent corrupt inclinations, 
and overcome the world by their faith, and 
through the influence of the gofpel motives. 
Had they the afliftance of divine grace ? the 
fame affiftance is offered us. Did they know 
kow to be abafedy and how to abound \ and 
were inftru^ed to be fully and to be hungry ; 
to abound y and to fuffer need; in every fiat e 
to be content y as St. Faul fpeaketh of him- 
felf, mi. iv. 12. who faith expreflly, at the 
33 th verfe, he could do all this through Chrifi 
flrengthening him ? The fame Lord is able 
and willing to ftrengthen other of his fer- 
vants J he is rich unto all who call upon hinjy 
his grace is fu^cient for theiiiy and his 
flrength made ferfeB in their weaknefs. 

It is farther to be obferved, to the pur- 
pofe of the text, that flill the nearer the ex- 
ample is, the greater force it hath. The 
diftant report of confeffors and martyrs, 
their heroic atchievements and fufferings, 
the mofl grievous perfecutions for the caufe 
of pure religion ; and rather than make 
fhipwreck of faith and a good confcience, 
though they are much more illuHrious, yet 

may 



a Means of at tattling to Wijaom, ^ 1 1 

may not affed: us fo fenlibly, nor can be S e R m. 
fuch conftant remembrancers to us of our X^^- 
duty, as the lefs celebrated inftances of piety 
and virtue in our own familiar acquaintances : 
Their good converfation every day upbraid- 
eth our faults j and befides their words, 
which it may be expeftcd will convey in- 
ftrudion to us, and tend to recommend re- 
ligion, and be, as the apoftle faith, fuch as 
may be to the ufe of edifying, and minijier 
grace to the hearers: Befides this, I fay, 
their practice itfelf is a friendly admonition 
to walk, as they do, circumfpecftly, blame- 
lefs J and harmlefsy in the midji of a perverfe 
generation. 

Thus the advantage of walking with wife 
men is very evident, in order to our be- 
coming wife and virtuous ; as on the other 
hand, the pernicious tendency of chuling 
the company of fools, will appear to any one 
who conlidereth it. As the good works of 
iincere chriflians fhining before men, induce 
them to glorify God, to acknowledge the 
reality of religion, and fo fall into the prac- 
tice of it ; the evil works of bad men, efpe- 
cially who make a religious profefTion, have 
the diredly oppofite tendency, namely, to 
perfuade carelefs unattentive men, that virtue 
is but an empty fhadow, for which it is not 

X 4 rea*- 



312 Walking with Wife Men, 

S E R M. reafonable to forego what they think the 
XII. fubftantial, that is, the fenfual enjoyments 
of Hfe 5 and that a vicious is more eligible 
than a religious courfe. How many are 
there who have at firil fome good fenti- 
ments, and feeble virtuous inclinations, who 
flartle at ill adions, and are afraid to venture 
upon them, and yet by feeing the wicked 
practices of others, which by degrees be- 
come familiar to them, they overcome their 
fears, and at laft get an impious courage to 
commit the greateil iniquities ? Thus it is 
that milled finners haften to their ruin, and 
ijeing the companions of fools are defiroyed. 

I ihall now, in conclufion, make fome 
practical reflections on what hath been faid. 
And, firfl^ we may obferve that wife, that 
is, virtuous and good men, are a great blef? 
iing to the world, though they are frequently 
defpifed in it 5 their condition often expo- 
feth them to neglect and contempt, becaufe 
they are poor j thus Solomon obferveth, Eccl. 
ix, 16. T^he poor man's wifdom is defpifed, 
and his words are not heard -, their virtue it- 
felf is hated by the ungodly, becaufe it gall- 
eth them by condemning their own follies ; 
and yet really they are the moft ufeful to 
mankind. It is on their account provi- 
dence regardeth the places where they live, 

over- 



a Mentis of attaining to Wifdotn. ^15 

overfpread with wickednefs ^ and God de- S e r m. 
ferreth his anger, fo that tranfgrefTors are XII. 
not cut off. But efpecially, becaufe by their 
good lives they are the moft efFedual preach- 
ers of righteoufnefsj and continually folicit 
men to reform. If religion be the greateft 
good to the world if it did generally obtain, 
then they who, efpecially, and in the moll 
effedhial manner, promote it, are the mofl 
beneficial to mankind j and ftill it is to be 
hoped, that when providence continueth 
fuch means of reformation, it is with a gra^ 
cious defign to make them fuccefsful, and 
do fome great good by them -, but, indeed, 
when they are taken away, it is a fatal prog- 
noftic. The holy Pfalmift, therefore, re- 
gretteth this as a moft deplorable cafe, which 
none could remedy but God himfelf, Pfal, 
xii. I . Helpy Lord^ for the godly man ccafeth, 
the faithful fail Jrotn among the children of 
men : And it may well be feared that it 
hath a difmal portendency of worfe times, 
if fuch perfons are taken away ; Jfa. Ivii. i . 
'The righteous perifeth, and no man layeth it 
to h$art^ and merciful men are taken away, 
none confidering that the righteous is taken 
away from the evil to come. But when vile 
men are exalted, when they grow in power 
5 and 



oj^ Walking with Wife Metty 

S ER M. and Influence, the world then groweth quick- 
XII. ly woife, and all things tend to ruin : For, 
2dly, I infer that bad men are not only 
ufelefs to the greatefl purpofes of life, but 
mifchievous in fociety. There cannot be a 
character more juftly abhorred by mankind, 
than that of a perfon who is publickly hurt- 
ful ; our benevolence to fociety, to one's 
country, or other communities, fill the heart 
with indignation againft him, as thofe ex- 
cellent principles claim a peculiar eftcem for 
the good patriot, and the lover of mankind. 
Now, certainly, he is a public nuifance, who 
by an open profligate life, debaucheth the 
world as far as he can, and draweth multi- 
tudes with him to ruin 5 and the more 
exalted his ftation, and confequently, the 
greater his influence is, flill he is the more 
pernicious. Outward appearances dazzle 
the multitude j magnificent titles, a fplen- 
dld equipage, and fuch like glaring things, 
procure a great deal of refped: ; but ftrip 
him of thofe falfe ornaments, and what a 
poor charadler, how defpicable, nay, a com- 
mon peft, is a wicked great man, hafting 
to his own.deftrucSion, and hurrying thou- 
fands along with him ? And let this be ap- 
plied by others of foolifh and irregular lives, 
thQ influence of whofe example is propor- 

tionably 



a Meam of attaviing to Wifdom. 3 1 5 

tionably hurtful in lefler affociations. How S e r M, 
deeply fhould it afFcd the hearts of finners, XII. 
that inftead of being ferviceable, they have' -~^ 
been mifchievous to families and other fo- 
cieties in which they were joined, efpecially 
thofe in fuperior relations, whofe inftruaions 
and good examples might be very profitable ? 
How many parents, and others in ftations 
of authority, who by living well, and by 
care in the management of children, and 
fuch as are committed to their truft and in- 
fpedion, might be the happy inftruments 
of forming them to virtue, on the contrary 
lead them" headlong to all manner of wick- 
ednefs, and to deftrudion at lafl ? I will , 
only add, in the 

Lajl place, That we ought to be very 
careful in the choice of our friends and in- 
timate companions. Friendfhip is certainly 
©ne of the greateft and nobleft plcafurcs of 
life ; they who are utter ftrangers to it have, 
indeed, but a low tafte of life, and have not 
experienced its bed enjoyments: But it is 
not every kind of familiarity among men, 
that is worthy the leered name of friend- 
fliip J when it is abufed to mean and un- 
worthy purpofes, or is founded on felfifli 
corrupt affections and pafnons, it is then not 
only vicious, but humouiTome, precarious, 

3 ''""^ 



^i6 Walking with Wife Men^ Sec. 

Serm. and unconftant, yielding no folid and abid- 
XII. ing pleaiure. Friendfhip founded in wif- 
dom, and improved to the purpofes of vir- 
tue, carrieth in it the beft fentiments and 
afFedions, and the truefl; and higheft plea- 
fures that the human nature is capable of, 
and which will lafl to the utmoft duration 
of our beings, even to perpetuity. If then 
we be fenfible of our own frailty, and our 
danger of declining from the right way, 
fliould we not avoid the intimacies which 
may betray our integrity, and expofe us to 
many temptations j and, on the contrary, 
chufe thofe which may be the means of 
correcting bad difpofitions, and ilrengthen- 
ing good ones, and by which we may rea- 
fonably hope for daily good inftrud:ions, 
and an example to be fet before us, which 
fhall tend to our furtherance in every chri- 
flian virtue ? 



3 ER- 



f 317 ] 

SERMON XIII. 

The Foundation of Confidence 
towards GOD, explained. 

I JO HN III. 19, 20, 21. 

A?id hereby ive bioiv that we are of the truth, 
andfiall ajjiire our hearts before him. For 
if our hearts condemn us, God is greater 
than our hearts, and knoweth all things. 
Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not^ thm 
have ive confidence towards God. 

NOTHING can poffibly be of greater 5 e r w. 
importance to men, than to know XIII. 
how they may obtain the divine approba- 
tion, and upon what grounds they may hope 
for it; confequences of the lail moment to 
our happinefs cr mifery depend upon it -, 
if God juftifieth, who is he that condemn- 
eth ? There is no fuperior tribunal to reverfe 
his decrees, nothing to be dreaded from any 
adverfe power ; if he condemneth there is 
no defence againft his wrath, and who 
knoweth its power ? It can reach to the 

whole 



3i8 ^he Foundation of 

Serm. whole of our being, and to a length of dd- 

XIII. ration beyond what the jealous felf-con- 
demning mind can imagine. Now, feeing 
God, as the governor of mankind, hath 
given them a law (he was written it in their 
hearts, and at fundry times, and in divers 
manners revealed his will to them) we juftly 
infer from his moral perfedlions, that he 
will judge them according to that law, re- 
warding the obedient, and punifliing the 
difobedient. But the queftion is, whether 
there be any rule whereby we may judge 
beforehand what fentence we are to exped: ? 
And if there be any fuch rule, and a poflibi- 
iity of arriving at certainty in this judgment 
concerning ourfelves, here is the proper fub- 
jed: of our mofi; folicitous inquiry. Who 
would not employ all the powers of his 
mind in a matter of fuch concernment, pofl- 
poning all other affiiirs as trifles in compari- 
fon ? Who would not apply himfelf with 
the greatell: earneilnefs to the trial of this 
one point, if it is to be known, what fen- 
tence he is to exped: from the righteous and 
moft awful tribunal of God, and upon what 
terms he is with the judge of the world ? 
What inward confidence and fecurity of 
mind, what comfortable enjoyment even of 
his prefent exiitence mull the man poilefs, 

who 



Conjidence towards God, explained, 3 1 9 

who hath the foHd hope of being acquitted S e r m. 
by his fupremc ruler, perfedly wife, power- ^l*^* 
ful, and juft, in whofe favour is Hfe ? On the 
contrary, what horror, trembhng, and con- 
fuiion, muft feize the heart which is even 
fufpicious of being difapproved by him, and 
hath the foreboding apprehenfions of a fu- 
ture condemnation ? 

The apoftle hath preremptorily deter- 
mined this matter in my text, fhewing us 
upon what grounds we may aflure our hearty, 
before God, as he fpeaketh, that is, fatif- 
fy ourfelves that we are entitled to his ac- 
ceptance, as knowing that we are of the 
truths or have fulfilled the obligations to 
obedience we are under, according to the 
true intent and meaning of 1 h law : and 
then he explaineth himfelf more fully by 
laying down this general docflrine, that the 
teftimony of our own confciences is the 
only juft meafure of our expectations from 
God ; if they condemn us, as wilfully and 
wickedly tranfgreffing his law, and coming 
(hort of that duty which he requireth, we 
have nothing to look for but his difpleafure 5 
for he is greater than our hearts, which are 
immediately fubjed: to his judgment, more 
impartial than they -, and he knoweth all 
things, all the fecret infincei^ity which is in 

them. 



320 The Foundation of 

Serm. them, and every aggravating circumllancc 
XIII. which atendeth our offences. On the other 
hand, if our hearts do not condemn, but 
acquit us, then we have confidence towards 
God J we may enjoy inward ferenity, and 
can look to the fuperior divine tribunal 
without terror ^ we are perfuaded that the 
fervices we now perform are acceptable to 
him, which feemeth to be the apoftle's 
immediate defign,^ for he addeth, ver. 22. 
and whatever we ajk, we receive of him, 
becaufe we keep his commandments^ and do 
the things that are pleafmg to him -, not that 
he will grant us every thing we defire, 
which may not be befl for us -, but that he 
will accept our dutiful addrefl'es, and beftow 
thofe bleffings, which his infinite wifdom 
ieeth fitteft for us ; and upon the fame foun- 
dation, v^e fhall have boldnefs in the day of 
judgment, as this facred writer elfewhere 
fpeaketh, we fhall not be afraid of Chriil's 
coming, in the glory of his Father, to pro- 
nounce the lafl decifive fentence, which 
fliall finally determine the condition of every 
man. It is true, the preceding context re- 
iateth particularly to charity, which St. 
*fohn^ after the example of his great mafler, 
earneftly recomraendeth in all his writings; 
he layeth a mighty ilrefs on the love of the 

brethren j 



Cofifidt'jiCe towards God^ explained. 321 

brethren ; by it we know that we arepaj]cdfrofn% r. r ^!f . 
death to life 'j and while the oppofite difpofition XIII. 
ruleth in the hearts of men, they abide in 
death 5 that is, in a ftate of fervitude to fin, 
and liable to the wrath of God as tlie punifh- 
ment of it : By charity we imitate God, who 
is love ; and when it is warm and vigorous 
in the heart, exprefTing itfelf in a<£ls of be- 
neficence, we {hew a j-uft lenfe of that love 
which he hath fo glorioufly manifefted to 
us, in fending his Son to die for our redemp- 
tion ! But all this is not to be underflood as 
if charity, were the whole of religion, and 
our hope towards God were founded on it iii 
exclufion of other virtues : Charity doth not 
hide a multitude of fins in this fehfe, that it 
maketh amends for them, and, by its nierit 
in God's fight, procureth the forgivenefs of 
them. There is an abfolute neceflity, in or- 
der to be approved of God, that we be jull, 
and temperate^ and patient^ and godly, as 
well as charitable; and our Saviour's dodrine, 
which his beloved difciple did not intend to 
contradict iSj Johnxiv. 2^. He that hath 'my 
commandments and keepeth them^ not one or 
fome, but all of them, and they enjoin uni- 
verfal righteoufi:iefs, he it is that loveth me^ 
end he Jhall he 'loved of ??iy Father^ and 
I will love hi?n; without that we cannot 
Vol, III. Y ailurc 



222 ^h^ Foundation of 

Serm. allure our hearts before God; and orrr 
XIII. knowledge of k is juft the fame thing as 
knowing we are of the truth. The plain 
meaning,, therefore, of the text is, that if 
our hearts witnefs for us, that we are iincere 
in doing the will of God, or keeping his 
commandments, then we have confidence 
towards him ; but if they witnefs the con- 
trary, that we wilfully -and wickedly break 
his laws, then the conclufion concerning our- 
felvcs is alfb diredtly contrary, namely, that 
we have no reafon to hope for his approba- 
tion, but to expedt his difpleafure. This is 
the dodrine which I ihall endeavour in the 
following difcourfe to explain and eftablilh ^ 
and then I fhall draw fome inferences from 
it, which, I think, are of great importancf 
and ufefulnefs. 

I am fenlibk this doctrine needeth expli- 
cation, when we apply it to the prefent ftate 
of human nature 5 a ilate of infirmity and 
imperfection, and to minds ignorant and 
weak, prejudiced and unattentive ; and yet> 
I believe it may, notwithftanding all thcfc 
difadvantages, be reduced to fuch a cer- 
tainty, that every man who is truly difpofed 
to do it, may be able to pafs a right judg- 
ment upon his own ftate, his own temper and 

adions^ whether they are approved of God 

or 



Confidence towards God^ explained. 323 

or not J in order to which, I (hall lay down Serm.' 
the following propofitions. XIII. 

Firjly That the approbation and the con- 
demnation of our own confciences, upon 
which our hope towards God and the fear 
of his difpleafure depend, do not relate to 
abfolute innocence, and to every thing which, 
ftridly fpeaking, may be called finful. If 
the queftion were concerning finlefs perfec- 
tion, and concerning every kind and degree 
of moral evil, no man's heart could acquit 
him ; for there is not a jufi man that Ui)eth 
upon the earthy and fmneth noti The fame 
apoftle in this very epiille teacheth us, that 
if lue fay we have no fin^ we deceive our- 
feheSy and the truth is not in us. So far , 
from knowing that we are of the truth, and 
alTuring our hearts before God, by pretend- 
ing to an unfinning obedience, men making 
fuch a prefumptuous claim, fhew only their 
ignorance of themfelves and of the truth, 
not their innocence 3 for the very beft, who 
are always jealous over themfelves with a 
godly jealoufy, and look the moft ftri<5tly 
into their own hearts and lives, are always 
fenfible of their own frailties, and that they 
could not abide a trial by God's all-fearching 
eye, if he fhould mark every one of their 
Y 2 infirmi- 



324 ^^^ Fotindafion of 

Serm. infirmities, and therefore are ready to fay, 
XIII. in the words of the Pfalmift, If thou Jl^ouldfi 
mark iniquity^ O Lord, who fiall fatid? 
Enter not into judgment with thy fervanf, 
for in thy fight fiall no mmi living bejtifti- 
fied. We mufl therefore diftingaifh, and 
the fcriptare hath taught us to do fo, be- 
tween finning, and committing fin or work- 
ing iniquity ; that is, between unallowed 
failings, and wilful deliberate difobedience 
to the laws of God againll the convidion of 
our own minds ; a confeioufnefs of the lat- 
ter deftroyeth our confidence towards God, 
and fiUeth our hearts with foreboding fears 
of his wrath 5 but notwitflanding the for- 
mer, we afTure our hearts before him. 

Nor is this the peculiar dodtrine of chri- 

ftianity, tho* more fully and folemnly afcer- 

tained by it. No man who hath worthy itn- 

timents of the fupreme Being, as the juft, 

and wife, and merciful ruler of his reafon- 

able creatures, can doubt that he maketh a 

difference between the obftinately wicked, 

who do not like to retain him in their know- 

kdge, and who, with an high hand, pre- 

uimptuoufly violate his laws which they 

' know ; between them, I fay, and upright 

^J>erfons who are iincerely difpofed to do his 

will as far as they can underftand itj who 

I . ■ are 



Confidence towards God, explained. 3^5 - 

are diligent to know their duty, and heartily S e rM' 
inclined to pradtife it, though they have XIII. 
ilill fome involuntary errors, and are charge- 
able with fins of infirmity. Can we fuffer 
ourfelves to believe that the good God, who 
hath written the work of his law on the 
hearts of all men, and given them con- 
fciences to bear witnefs to it, in purfuance 
of which, he exercifeth a conflant care 
over them, by his goodnefs inviting finners 
to repentence, and obferving the difpofitions 
and behaviour of every one ; can we fuffer 
ourfelves to believe that he doth not diflin- 
guifh between them who defire to fear him, 
and in the general tenor of their lives, {hew 
a prevailing regard to virtue, though with 
fome imperfed:ions, and the incorrigible of- 
fenders, who are cont ait ions and obey not the 
the truth made known to them, but take 
pleafure in unrighteoufnefs ? And that he 
doth not approve the former, and difap- 
prove the other ? To imagine that this mer- 
ciful indulgence to the infirmities of the 
fmcere, which they bewail, are daily ftriving 
againft, and endeavouring to amend, is a 
fpecial grace of the gofpel to them who 
ai'e under tliat difpenlation from which 
others equally fiacere are excluded, is to 
ni^jke the gofpel an inftrument of partiality, 
y 3 and 



226 ^he Foundation of 

S E R M. and is a very unbecoming notion concern- 

XIII. ing the mofl equitable and gracious admi- 
niftration of divine Providence. 

But indeed the gofpel itfelf hath taught us 
to think otherwrife, and to beheve that God 
obferveth impartially the fame meafures of 
judgment towards all Men. To this pur- 
pofe the inftance of Cornelius is very re- 
markable j he v^as a Gentile, thereby fepa- 
rated in the judgment of the 'Je'ws from the 
people of God fo far, that St. Feter^ not 
yet fully underftanding the extent of Chrill's 
kingdom, and the generous maxims upon 
which it is founded, was unwilling to go 
into his houfe, that is, to converfe with 
him about religious matters, imagining 
himfelf to be under a prohibition by the 
Mofaic law, till God by a vifion taught hin% 
to call no man common or unclean. This 
Gentile was a devout worfhipper of the 
true God, and his character in other refpedls 
fuitable to his devotion, though he was not 
free from thofe infirmities which are com- 
mon to men ; and his fincere fervices were 
accepted by the impartial and gracious judge 
of them, of which he not only had the good 
hope which is founded on the teflimony of 
an approving confcience, common to good 

men. 



Confidence toivards GoJ, explauieJ. 327 

men, but by fpecial favour, an extraordi- S e R M« 
nary meflenger was Cent from heaven to XIII. 
aiTure him of it, A^s x. 3. An angel of the 
Lord fa'id unto him, thy -prayer i and thine 
alms are come up for a memorial before God; 
and as a farther token of the divine appro- 
bation, telleth him how he (hould be fur- 
ther inftru<5led in his duty: Whereupon the 
apoftle Peter, taught by the fpirit of God, 
and having a very clear example before him, 
maketh this excellent declaration, ver. 34, 
35. Of a truth I perceive that God is no re- 
fpcBer of perfons ; but in every nation, he 
that fear eth him and worketh righteoufnefs 
(fo far as human infirmity can attain, that 
is, not without fome failings) is accepted 
with him. 

Secondly, Not only is there fiich a merci- 
ful allowance for fins of infirmity properly 
fo called, failings into which fincere perfons 
fall through ignorance, or inadvertency and 
furprize, which in the whole are unavoid- 
able, fo that they do not deftroy our hope 
towards God; but God is alfo gracioufly 
pleafed to accept of repentance, that is, a 
thorough and fincere converfion from evil 
difpofitions, vicious habits, and wicked pcac- 
tices, to good j from impiety, to godlinefs ; 
Y 4 from 



32S The Foundation of 

S E R M. from fuperftltion, to pure worfhip ; from 
_ _ ^ immorality, to every kind of virtue. Now 
efpecially, fince he hath given all men aflli- 
rance of the future judgment by raifing 
Jefus Chrifl from the dead, whom he hath 
ordained to be the judge, he commandeth 
them all every where to repejit^ and hath 
annexed the bleffing of a free and gracious 
remiflion of all their fins to repentance ; 
having promifed to them who truly repent 
and are converted, that their iniquities Jloall be 
blotted out. Acts. iii. 1 9. When we confider 
the univerfal bounty of providence, and that 
great goodnefs which God manifefteth par- 
ticularly to mankind, guilty as they muft 
acknowledge themfelves to be 3 he beareth 
long with finners, unwilling that they fliould 
perifh, and is kind to the iinthankjid and the 
evil', . we have the greatefl reafon to believe 
he will have a compaffionate regard to the 
penitent, and that if men forfake their evil 
ways, and unrighteous doings, and turn to 
the fincere love and pradlice of virtue, he 
will not feverely mark their renounced 
wickednefs, but approve of, and reward 
their change of heart and life. But to chri- 
ftians the cafe is exceeding plain, by the ex- 
prefs allurance God hath given pf an entire 
forgivenefsj and of eternal falvation to all 
; who 



Confidence ioivat'ds God, explained, 329 

who break off their finfal courfes by righte- S e r M, 
oufnefs, and a thorough and effectual refor- XIII. 
mation. This is the profeffed defign of the 
gofpel, the great dod:rine taught by John 
Baptifi, and afterwards by our Saviour him- 
felf. We muft therefore underftand the de- 
claration in the text according to it ; for fee- 
ing the judgment we pronounce upon our- 
felves hath a neceffary reference to the judg- 
ment of God, and our hearts condemn or 
acquit us as we beheve he will, his rule of 
judging muft be ours 5 if, notwithftanding 
many and heinous tranfgreffions, nay, a 
long continued wicked courfe of life, God 
will abfolve the penitent, fo that upon his 
turning from all his Ji?is, that he hath 
committed J to do that which is lawful and 
right, and to keep all thefiatutes of the Lord^ 
he f}:aU furely live ; his tranfgrejjions fhall not 
he mentioned to him, in the righteoufnefs of 
his latter amended life, he fl:all live, EzeL 
xviii. 21. or, be faved by the divine mercy: 
If it be fo, the man whofe heart witneffeth 
for him that he hath fo fincerely repented, 
that he hath fubmitted to the righteoufnefs 
that is by faith, that is, to the terms of 
chriftianity, that he hath brought forth 
fruits meetJbr amendment of life, ceafcdto 
do evil and learned to do well -, that man hath 

con^ 



330 ^he Foundation of 

Serm. confidence towards God, or a well grounded 
XIII. hope of his gracious acceptance. 

But, the greateft difficulty attending this 
fubjeft remaineth yet to be confidered; 
which arifeth from mens liablenefs to mif- 
takc in the judgment they make of them- 
felves, even of their own moral characters 
and actions. The fcripture teacheth us, and 
experience confirmeth it, that there are 
many errors of this fort. On the one hand, 
the ways of finners are often pure in their 
own EyeSy when God, who pondereth the 
hearty judgeth quite other wife concerning 
them. What multitudes are there, who 
not only in outward profeffion but in their 
own deceived minds, make confident claims 
to the favour of God, which have no foun- 
dation at all ? And, particularly, fome through 
the deceitfulnefs of fin, and an habitual 
courfe of obflinate abandoned wickednefs, 
are hardened into an utter infenfibility, fo 
as to be paft feeling of their own guilt, and 
paft fear of the divine wrath ; their con- 
fciences, as the apoflle fpeaketh, feared as 
'with an hot iron^ ceafe to do their office in 
reproaching them for their crimes, and de- 
nouncing the judgments of God againft 
them. Is it to be thought that becaufe their 
own hearts do not condemn them, there- 
5 fore 



Confidence towards God, explaiticd. 331 

fore God will juftify them ? No certainly ; for S e r m, 
then the more obdurate and flupid any finner XIII. 
is, the better would his condition be ; but 
our moll obvious notions of the holinefs 
and juftijce qf God will not fuffer us to 
entertain fuch a thought. On the other 
hand, there are fome too ready to condemn 
themfelvesj melancholy religious perfons, 
through a prefent violent diftemper of mind, 
or rather perhaps a diftemper of body affecft- 
ing the mind, and caufing vehement per- 
turbation, pronounce a hafty and unjuft (cn- 
tence againft themfelves. Far be it from 
us to think, that fuch a rafti and wrong judg- 
ment hath any connexion with the judg- 
ment of God, Surely the judge of the ivhole 
world will do right ; he is not unrighteous to 
forget his fer'vants work of faith and labour 
of love, which they have fiewed towards his 
name, although under a cloud, and in the 
prefent confufion of their thoughts, they 
may not be able to fee their own integrity. 
But this whole cafe of mens erroneous judg- 
ments concerning themfelves gives occafion 
to thefe farther obfervations for explaining 
thrS point now under conlideration. 

3^/y, Then, that hope towards God which 
is laid on any other foundation than the 

teftimony 



332 The foundation of 

S E R M. teftimony of confcience concerning our fin- 
XIII. cerity in obeying the law which we are un- 
der, hath nothing to do with the prefent 
fubje<5i:. The apoflle doth not fay in the 
text, or mean, that whenever men have con- 
fident hope of the divine approbation and 
acceptance, however they came by it, and 
upon whatever ground, they fhall be accord- 
ingly approved or accepted -, but that if their 
hearts do not condemn them for infincerity, 
or wilful tranfgreffion, impenitently conti- 
nued in, they have well grounded confi- 
dence. The reafon why I obferve this is, 
becaufe very often prefumptuous finners 
have ilrong expecftations of the mercy of 
God 5 but their hope is built on quite an- 
other bottom than their hearts approving 
their moral difpolitions and behaviour, nay, 
in direct oppofition to the judgment of their 
confciences concerning them. Some lay 
great ftrefs on their religious profeffion, and 
the foundnefs of their faith j others rely on 
their exadl obfervance of rites and ceremo- 
nies ; the hope of the Pharifees was founded 
upon their fafting often, making long pray- 
ers, their ceremonial wafhings, their punc- 
tual tything of mint, annife, and cummin, 
and fuch like things. In like manner fome 
chriflians depend on their baptifm., their 

receiving 



Confidence toivardi God y explained. 333 

receiving the ikcrament of the Lord's fupper, S e r m, 
their being members of the pureft primitive XIII. 
and apoftolic churches ; not to mention the 
grofler fuperflition of thofe who place their 
confidence in penances, pilgrimages, the 
merits of the faints, the abfolutions, indul- 
gencies, prayers, and facrifices of the church. 
Others, again, groflly miftake the true no- 
tion of repentance, which confifteth in an 
univerfal change of heart and converfation 
from evil to good, fubftituting in the room 
of it, forrows, confefiions, humiliations, and 
good difpofitions, which produce no real 
.amendment of life. And, laftly, fome pre- 
fumptuoufly truft in the merits of Chrift, 
even when their confciences accufe them of 
continuing to live in obflinate difobedience 
to his laws. Now, all thefe dangerous er- 
rors and falfe hopes are fo far from receiv- 
ing any countenance from the text, that, on 
the contrary, it is the apollle's intention to 
call us off from them, and diredt us to a 
quite different way of trying our claim to 
the divine approbation, namely, by a diligent 
inquiry into our tempers and moral condud:, 
which I iliall afterwards endeavour to {hew 
you is much more jufi:, and founded in in- 
variable truth. By a parity of reafon, the 
felf-condemnings of diflempered good minds 

arc 



^24- ^^^^ Foundation of 

SERM.are not, according to the true defign of the' 
XIII. text, to be looked upon as any evidence 
that God will condemn them ; becaufe fo 
far as they have any appearance of a rational 
ground (for the moftpart, indeed, they pro- 
ceed in a great meafure from a difordered 
imagination) they are founded on a miftake, 
either of the terms of acceptance U'ith God, 
or the nature of the offences w^ith w^hich 
the heart chargeth itfelf. If we imagine 
that God will be fo inexorably fevere, as to 
punifh every the leaft deviation from his 
law, even though not allowed, or fineerely 
repented of; or if we magnify fuch infir- 
mities, as the beft are not altogether free 
from in this imperfedt flate, into heinous 
unpardonable crimes; if the want of vehe-' 
ment emotions of mind be accounted want 
of love to God, though they are only acci- 
dental, depending on other caufes, and the 
love of God doth not confifl in them, but 
in a calm deliberate efleem, with a fincere 
difpofition to keep his commandments ; if 
blafphemous thoughts arifing in the mind, 
utterly abhorred, and earneftly refilled, are 
reckoned its heinous tranfgreffions, though 
really they are not imputed to it as its faults 
in any degree j in thefe, and fuch like cafes, 
the judgment of condemnation, which by 

miilake 



Confidence towards God, explained. 335 

miftake the heart paffeth againft itfelf, God S e r M. 
will not confirm j and the cure of the mif- XIII. 
takes, fo far as they arc curable in a rational 
way, is by better information concerning the 
nature of God, his infinite goodnefs and 
righteoufnefs, and concerning the terms of 
the gofpel. Our prefent inquiry relateth to 
the calm judgment of the confcience or heart 
upon its own prevailing diipofitions, its de- 
liberate purpofes, and the general tenor of 
its adions. 

/^thfyj As the judgment of our hearts con- 
cerning ourfelves is of the laft moment, and 
the mofl important confequences depend 
upon it ; for it is plainly the defign of the 
text to teach us that the approbation or dif- 
approbation of Almighty God is to be ex- 
pe6ted according as the heart doth or doth 
not condemn us j and therefore miftakes in 
this matter are infinitely dangerous ; fo, if 
we are not wanting to ourfelves, they may 
be avoided. Fallibility is univerfally the 
charadler of the human underftanding ; no 
man who attendeth to what paffeth in his 
own mind, but muft be convinced he hath 
in many inftances made a wrong judgment 5 
and we have all reafon to believe that many 
errors remain with us. But errors are not 

all 



• 336 ^he Foundation of 

Se R M. all alike hurtful 5 fome of them are peffedly 

XIII. innocent, and produce no bad effed:s at all : 
What is any man the worfe for his judging 
amifs concerning the magnitude and diftance 
of the heavenly bodies ? The correfting his 
miftakc may give him pleafure, but without 
that, he might have been as good a man, 
and in the main as happy. But in the affair 
we are now confidering, a miftake cannot 
be harmlefs -, at leaft on the one fide, which 
is the moft dangerous, it cndeth . in a mife- 
rable difappointment. For a man to flatter 
himfelf that he is entitled ' to the favour of 
God, and to find at laft that wrath abideth up- 
on him, I conclude, then, we are not under a 
fatal neceffity of being deceived, elfe I fhould 
not at all know how this text is to be under- 
flood, or, indeed, how the juflice of God 
could be vindicated to the full conviction of 
men. Let us confider how our minds are 
affedied upon the difcovery of error, how it 
mufi: appear to our own refled:ing thoughts, 
and what confequences we can think may, 
and ought to follow it, from the judgment 
of others, particularly a fuperior. If the 
miftake was' abfolutely invincible, that is, 
the perfon falling into it was not furnifhed 
with a capacity, or had no means whereby he 
could poffibly fnun it, then it was certainly 

excu- 



Confidence towards Gody explained. 337 

cxcufablej a man's heart cannot condemn Serm. 
him for it j he may confider it as proceed- XIII. 
ing from a natural impcrfedion, or as infe- 
licity, but cannot impute it to himfelf, and 
therefore he cannot think the fentence jufl 
whereby he fliould incur any penal confe- 
quences on that account. But if, upon a re* 
view of our errors, it appeareth to us that 
they proceeded not from a total impotence 
in ourfelves, or from the want of fufficient 
means to have prevented them, but from a 
criminal difpofition in the mind, the cafe is 
quite different; the heart then chargeth it 
felf as guilty ; the anions done in the pur- 
fuance of the miflake appear to be our 
faults, the penalties incurred by it to be 
jufl:, and the oppofite condemning fentence 
of a higher tribunal is vindicated in our own 
thoughts. In the prefent cafe, if our hearts 
do not condemn when they might and ought 
to have condemned us, that is, if we are 
led into the erroneous judgment by our own 
fault, and we had it in our own power to 
have prevented it by a due ufe of the means 
and opportunies we enjoyed, it doth not fol- 
low that God will acquit us, or that we have 
any jufl: ground of confidence towards him, 
nor is the declaration in the text fo to be 
underfl:ood. 

Vol. III. Z 5/% 




"The Eoundation of 

^thlyy therefore, the judgment we pafs 
upon ourfelves, or upon our own temper 
and courfe of acftions, ought not to be rafh 
and indeliberate. The leafl confideration 
of the frame and the powers of our minds 
muft convince us, that attention, in order 
to prevent miftakes, and to judge rightly in 
matters of importance, is one of the firft 
duties incumbent on fuch creatures as we 
are. Seeing the human underftanding is fo 
imperfed, far from a comprehenfive intui- 
tion of things, even many truths, which may 
be clearly known, do not appear to its firft 
view; what can be more rcafonable and 
becoming us, than that we fhould not run 
haftily into a conclufion upon points which 
nearly concern our duty and our happinefs, 
but that we (hould apply ourfelves to a di- 
ligent examination of the evidence upon 
which a judgment is to be formed, which 
every man is confcious to himfelf he hath 
It in his own power to do, and for neglecft- 
ing it his heart will reproach him ? We 
know by experience, that many errors have 
been thus prevented, and many corrected ; 
and, furely, we mufl acknowledge there is 
'no affair which more juftly calleth for our 
deliberation and careful inquiry, than the 

judgment 



Confidence towards God, explained. ^^9 

judgment we make of ourfelves, upon which Se rm. 
W6 are to found our expectations from God XI 11. 
tour fupreme judge. 

6tbfyy There is another foutce of error 
which it will require our utmofl: care to 
guard againft, that is, prejudices and pre- 
poffefTionSj the influence of evil habits, and 
Corrupt felfifh affedtions byafing the mind. 
Thfey mufl: be ftrangers to the Weaknefs of 
the human nature, who do not know how 
much the private inclinations and averfions 
of men fway their judgment. How eafily 
do wc go into opinions which are agreeable 
to us ? how difficultly are we perfuaded to 
aflent to what muft give us uneafinefs ? Into 
that moft pernicious of all errors, the heart's 
not condemning for heinous crimes, men 
do not fall but by an habitual coiirfe of 
wickednefs, and through the influence of 
the moft corrupt afFed:ions. So flrong is 
the fenfe of moral differences naturally in 
the minds of all mankind, that no man 
ever yet arrived to fuch a height of ilupidity 
as to call evil good,' or to be eafy and con- 
fident in a vicious courfe of life, till after a 
flrong reluctance he hath violently conquered 
his reafon, and after many ineffecflual re- 
monftrances fo baffled confcience, that it 
ceafeth to reprove j and then the judgment 
Z 2 of 



540 ^^^ Foundation of 

S E R M. of God condemning, contrary to the pre- 

XIII. fent judgment, or rather infenfibUity of the 
heart not condemning, will appear mani- 
feftly righteous, and the confcience of the 
criminal, when deUvered from the vehe- 
mently prevailing and hardening prejudices, 
muft acknowledge it. But there are other 
cafes more difficult than this, namely, when 
men ftill retain a regard for confcience, fo 
that they have never habitually and wilfully 
acted againft its admonitions, and yet through 
prejudice have been milled into thofe opi- 
nions, and practices purfuant to them, which 
are really evil, and which upon farther illu- 
mination, and a more diligent inquiry, they 
themfelves have condemned. The moft re- 
markable example of this kind is that of the 
apoftle Paul, who before his converfion to 
the chriilian faith, by the account he giveth 
of himfelf, and we are fure it is true, was a 
confcientious man j he was, touching the 
righteoufnefs of the law, blamelefs j he had 
lived in all good confcience, even while he 
was a pharifee j and faith that he had ferved 
God with a pure confcience ; and yet after- 
wards, being better inftrudted by chriftia- 
nity, reflecting on that former period of his 
life, he reprefenteth his own anions as very 
criminal i he calleth himfelf the chief of 

finners, 



Conjide nee towards God J explained. 341 

finners, and a blafphemer, aperfecutor, and Serm. 
injurious. What judgment is to be made of XIII. 
fuch an heart not condemning^ it is hard for 
us precifely to determine. We are fure that 
God will make all the favourable allowances 
for the weaknefs of his creatures, that the 
moft perfecfl equity and goodnefs require; 
but the cafe particularly referred to, leads 
us to this farther obfervation. 

Laftly, That there are different degrees 
of fincerity, which is the only objedl of 
the heart, or the confcience's approbation, 
and that only which God will accept. It 
not only implieth that we do not adl againft 
the prefent convidtion of our minds, but 
that they are not chargeable with grofs care- 
leffnefs, or wilful, obftinate prejudices, 
mifleading the judgment. It is true, that 
as fincerity may well be called the whole of 
religion, it is imperfect in this life. There 
is no man fo happy as to be wholly and uni- 
verfally free from the leafl degree of faulty 
inattention, or any bias upon his mind 
drawing him into failings. But this is not 
to be carried fo far as that we may not have 
fufficient affurance of our own fincerity to 
be a jufl: ground of confidence towards God. 
That which the mind mufl approve, 
which will afford it true fatisfadion in itfelf, 
Z 3 and 



3'42 ^he Foundation of 

S E R M. and which God will accept, is, the habi- 
Xlll. tiial prevalence of good difpofitions againfl 
the contrary, though infirmities Hill remain. 
And this is what every man may difcern 
concerning himfelf who carefully attendeth 
to what pafTeth in his own mind. May not 
one who is accuftomed to felf reflection, 
know what are the affedlions that rule the 
general tenor of his condud ? And in par^ 
ticular inftances, Avhich have been the fub- 
je(5t of deliberation, wherein there are fen- 
^ble oppofite tendencies in the heart, may 
he not be able to judge which of them pre- 
vaileth, whether prejudice, paflion, and 
felfifh defire, fhunning a diligent inquiry ; 
or if the voice of confcience be heard againfl 
their clamour, and that judgment followed 
which is the refult of an attentive and im- 
partial examination ? 

I cannot in this difcourfe finifli what I in^ 
tended to fay from the text, and therefore 
I {hall for the prefent conclude with this re- 
flecflion, that as flncerity admitteth of vari- 
ous degrees, we fhould always endeavour 
to grow in it. By a vigorous attention 
of mind, and the diligent ufe of proper 
means, efpecially a careful improvement of 
the gofpel grace, our conquefl over paffions 
and lufts which darken and miflead the 

mind. 



Confidence towards GoJj explained, 343 

mind, will advance gradually; they thatSERM, 
have pure hearts , and clean hands ^ fi:allwax ^^^A* 
firongcr and flronger in holinefs and virtue, 
that is, become more and more fincere ^ 
and as fincerity increafeth, fo will the evi- 
dences of it to the mind itfelf ; the path of 
the j lift is like the ftiining lights which ft Aneth 
more and more unto the perfedl day\ ftill 
more apparent by its genuine fruits before 
men, and in a more fenfible manner in- 
wardly perceived by its own confpicuous 
luftre, fo as to leave no room for hefita- 
tion concerning its reality, nor any remain- 
ing doubts of the divine approbation, con- 
fid ering the merciful terms ©f the gofpel. 



Z A SER- 



[ 344 1 

SERMON XIV. 

The Foundation of Confidence 
towards GOD, explained. 

W I ■ I I III — i - T ■ I.. ■ I . 

1 JOHN III. 19, 20, 21. 

'jind hereby we know that we are of the truths 
andfiall ajjure our hearts before him. For 
if our heart condemn us, God is greater 
than our heart, and knoweth all things. 
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then 
have we confidence towards God. 

SeRM. ' I '' H E defign of this text is to teach us 
XIV. X upon what grounds we may hope for 
the divine approbation, or have juft reafon 
to fear his difpleafure, namely, the teilimony 
of our confciences concerning our obedience 
or difobedience to his law, either that which 
he hath engraved on our hearts, zndjhewed 
us to he good by the light of nature, or 
which he hath given us by a pofitive and 
exprefs revelation, As this dodrine is liable 
to be mifapprehended, I explained it in a 
former difcourfe in feveral propofitions -, the 

furn 



The Foimdatioji of, &c. 345 

^m of which is, that the fubjed of the S e r m. 
heart's teftimony upon which it acquitteth XIV. 
men, is not perfect innocence 3 and that for 
which it condemneth them, is not every 
the leafl failure which ftridtly may be 
called a fin ; if that were the meafure of 
the divine judgment, no man living could 
hope to be juftified in the fight of God. But 
as he will accept of fincere obedience, tho* 
not without fome infirmities, and will only 
condemn for wilful tranfgrefilons ; this fliew- 
cth upon what tefi:imony of confcience we 
have rcafon to hope for his favour, or dread 
his indignation ; That as unallowed failures 
will not be imputed, fo God will be mer- 
ciful to the unrighteoufiiefs of the penitent, 
and remember their fins no more, as the 
gofpel exprefily aiTureth us ; and therefore 
the man whofe heart witnefiTeth for him 
that he hath forfakcn his wicked ways, hath 
ceafed to do evil, and learned to do well ; 
that he hath not only purpofed to amend, 
but brought forth, and continues to bring 
forth, fruits meet for repentance and amend- 
ment of life, hath a jufi: foundation for con- 
fidence towards God : That as this confi-i- 
dence is appropriated to the judgment of 
the heart already mentioned, the hope of 
divine acceptance, which is formed upon 

any 



346 ^he Foundation of 

Serm. any other grounds, fuch as religious pro-i- 
XI^» feffion, obfervance of pofitive inflitutions, 
faith, or whatever ehe is, or may be fepa- 
rated from fincere obedience and true re- 
pentance, all fuch hope is deceitful: That 
men are liable to miftakes in this important 
affair, they fometimes fpeak peace to them- 
felves, or their hearts do not condemn them, 
when yet God doth not fpeak peace to 
them } but yet fuch miftakes may be avoided, 
and we are not under a fatal neceffity of be- 
ing deceived, if, as the prophet fpeaketh, we 
•will fie w curjelves men^ or ad: a part bcr 
coming rational creatures ; that therefore the 
judgment of the heart concerning itfelf, up- 
on which ftrefs may be laid, muft not be 
rafli and indeliberate, but the refult of a 
diligent examination 5 and, farther, the mind 
muft be diverted of ftrong mifleading pre- 
judices and prepofleffions, efpecially a vehe- 
ment love of fin, producing an infenfibility 
of the excellence and the motives of virtue -, 
which is fo far from being inevitable, that 
no man can arrive to it till after a long con- 
tinued courfe of obftinate wickednefs, and 
violently refifting the remonftrances of his 
confcience. In fine, what the true decifion 
of this important point turneth upon, is fin- 
cerity, which being the \vhole of true reli- 
gion. 



Confidence towards God, explained, 347 

gion, is imperfed: in this life, but that which S e r M. 
)God will accept, being the habitual pre- -^Iv* 
valence of good difpofitions againft the con- 
trary j and in the deliberate purpofes of 
the heart cleaving to that which is good, 
and chufing to do what we know or believe 
to be right, even in oppofition to paflions, 
felfifh inclinations, and wordly intereft: Of 
this every man who is truly difpofed may be 
able to judge concerning himfelf, with fuf- 
ficient certainty ; however, the fureft way 
to make the teftimony of approving con- 
science fo clear, that it may be fafely relied 
on and leave no room to doubt, is, to en* 
deavour to grow always in fincerity, that is, 
in all goodnefs, and in the love and pradtic^ 
of every virtue. I proceed now. 

Secondly, To illuftrate and confirm the 
truth of the dodlrine thus explained, namely, 
that the judgment of the heart concerning 
itfelf, either acquitting or condemning it of 
infincerity, is the only juft ground upon which 
we can expedt the divine approbation or dif* 
approbation. The authority of the apoftle is 
fufficient to determine the point to chriftians, 
and, I think, his meaning is fo plain that there 
can be no hefitation concerning it. We may 
pbferve, however, that what St. John here 
3 teacheth 



34^ 5"/'^ Foundation of 

S E R M. teacheth us is fupported by the concurring 
X^^' teftimony of other facred writers. The 
apoflle Paul faith, Gal. vi. 4. Let every man 
prove his own work (examine his own actions, 
tracing them to their fecret fprings, that he 
may be approved to his confcience) and then 
hejhall have rejoicing in himfelf which no 
chriftian can or ought to have without hope 
of the divine approbation. It was upon the 
fame foundation St. Paul buiJt his own in- 
ward fatisflidion and peace, implying a per- 
fualion that God accepted him, 2 Cor. i. 12. 
Our rejoicing is this, the teftimony of our 
confcienceSy that in fimplicity and godly fm^ 
cerity, not infeJJ^ly wifdom, hut by the grace 
cf God, we have had our converfation in the 
world. In like manner Hezekiah^ when put 
to the fevereft trial, having an immediate 
warning of death, comforted himfelf and 
had confidence towards God, upon which 
he offered up his acceptable prayers, appeal- 
ing to God himfelf. Remember, Lord, how 
1 have walked before thee in truth and with 
a perfeSl heart, 2 Kings xx. 3 . 

But I may appeal to the experience of 

■ every man who will carefully look into his 

own heart, whether, upon an accurate felf- 

infpedion, there doth not arife, not only an 

inward ferenity and pleafure from a con- 

fcioufnefs 



Co?ifidcnce towards God, explained. 349 

fcioufnefs of integrity or uniformly good S e r M. 
afte(5tions, and a regular virtuous courfe of XIV. 
adion, but alfo confidence towards God j 
indeed, towards all moral agents, fo far as 
our integrity and our works are known to 
them ; efpecially towards him who is 
thoroughly acquainted with all our ways and 
thoughts, and whom we acknowledge to be 
the purefl and mofl perfect of all beings? 
And whether, on the other hand, the felf- 
reproaches of the heart for vicious inclina- 
tions and wicked adiions be not accompanied 
with a fecret confufion, arifing from the 
confideration of an awful prefence, to 
which moral turpitude is difagreeable ; and, 
if fenfible of its own ill defervings, it hath 
not a fecret dread of fuitable returns, efpe- 
cially from the righteous judge of the world? 
The minds which are afraid of looking into 
themfelves, which is the cafe of many, 
feem to give a tacit confent to this, there be- 
ing no imaginable reafon why they fliould 
decline fuch an inquiry, which they cannot 
but be fenfible is fo becoming them, and 
which to an honeft heart yields fo great 
fatisfadlion \ no reafon, I fay, but a fecret 
mifgiving fear of the confequences, and that 
they fee where it muft end, either in aban- 
doning their vices, which they are obfli- 

nately 



^ ^o 'The Foundation of 

S ERM. itately refolved not to part with',' of the Cof?- 

XI V. founding apprehensions of the divine dif- 
'pleafure, which they cannot bearj and 
therefore betake themfelves to the poor urt- 
manly refuge of an afFeded and refolved ig- 
norance : Yet even in that they are not fafe ; 
for a multitude of occafions there ate, not 
to be avoided, which lay them open to them- 
felves, and, in fpite 6i all their ftudied 
amufements to ttirn away their attentio/j, 
give them a frightful view of their own de- 
formed tempers and a(5lions, filling them with 
terror. He^ faith our Saviour, John iii. 20. 
that doth evil, habitually and incorrigibly, 
hateth the lights neither cometh to the light , left 
bis deeds JJjouid be reproved-y fo flrong is the 
impreflion naturally upon the minds of men, 
that wilful wickednefs and depraved afFed:i- 
ons render them obnoxious to fuperior intelli- 
gent natures, above all, to the Supreme. 

What can be the reafon of this, which 
we find fo univerfal among mankind ? Thie 
good and the bad are agreed in a perfuafion 
that purity of heart and life is pleafing to 
the Deity, and that corrupt difpofitions and 
immoral adions are difpleafing to him'; 
therefore the felf-approving mind hath con- 
fidence towards him, and the reproaches of 
the heart, for its difhonefty and unreformed 

beloved 



Confidence towards God^ explained. ^^t 

beloved fin, are necefTarily accompanied S e r m. 
with diffidence and fear 5 and the finners XIV. 
fhunning induilrioully the light of his own 
fpirit or confcience, which Solomon calleth 
ibe candle of the Lord, fearching the inward 
parts 5 this, I fay, mufl be attributed to the 
fame caufe : Shall it be faid that all this 
proceedeth only from human weaknefs; 
that the felf applauding joy and confidence 
of a virtuous mind is but enthuafiafm, the 
efFed: of a deluded warm imagination ; and 
that the diftruftful dread of a vicious 
one arifeth wholly from a fuperflitious fear- 
fulnefs, imbibed by the prejudices of edu- 
cation, and cherifhed by the often- inculcated 
inftrudions of weak or defigning men ? I 
know nothing in the power of human na- 
ture in order to our being affured of truth 
or being delivered from error, but a fair im- 
partial enquiry, and to that we appeal in 
the prefent cafe. The generality of harden- 
ed finners muft according to this rule be ac- 
knowledged to have prejudged the caufe, 
and therefore to be unqualified for deter- 
mining it, for their hearts will tell them 
they defignedly avoid a trial : But if any 
one will pretend to argue upon it, let it be 
obferved, that there are certain principles, 
in which the mind muft necefTarily reft, 

without 



35^ *I'he Foundation of 

S E R M. without being able to proceed any farther 
XIV. ^ lY^ fearching the grounds of its perfuafion. 
A clear and diftindl perception of the agree- 
ment or difagreement of our own ideas is 
the certain diftinguifliing mark of truth or 
falfhood in points of fpeculation 5 according- 
ly there are fome proportions felf-evident, 
as we commonly fpeak, or the truth of 
which the underflanding necefTarily per- 
ceiveth as foon as they are intelligibly pro- 
pofed to it, fo that it would be a ridiculous 
attempt to prove them : Again, we find 
ourfelves obliged to acquiefce in the tefti- 
mony of the external fenfes concerning the 
qualities of material objecfls, together with 
the immediate effects they produce in us, 
fuch as pleafure and pain : If, now, there 
is an internal fenfe by which we as necefiarily 
perceive the difference between right and 
wrong, or moral good and evil in affections 
and a6tions ; and if, with an application to 
ourfelves, this conflantly and uniformly pro- 
duceth the diredly oppofite effeds of felf- 
approbationand difapprobation, independent- 
ly on our own choice, together w^ith a con- 
fidence and a fear towards other intelligent 
moral agents, efpecially the Supreme j and, 
laflly, if all this appeareth to us whenever 
we attend to it, ftill the more evidently, 
A the 



Cofifidence towards God^ expldiiied. 5 r-j 

the more clofely we examine it and the Icfs Serm, 
confafed and difluibevl our thoughts are ; XIV. 
whether it be fo or not, let every one judge 
for himfelf J if, I fay, it be fo, we may 
then, I think, conclude it is the voice of na- 
ture necellarily refulting from our conilitu- 
tion, and the dodlrine of the appfile in my 
text is the dodrine of immutable reafon, 
fuppofing only the being of God and his 
moral character. .\'.lX 

There is nothing I believe gceth ^o fir to* 
wards erafing thofe fentiments out of the hu* 
man mind, at leafl hindering their proper ef- 
fect, as falfe notions of the Deity and of reli- 
gion. If men can once be perfuadcd that God 
is not a perfectly holy, righteous, and good 
being, or that he doth not exercife thefe per- 
fedicns in the government of his reafonable 
creatures j but that he dealeth with them in a 
way of arbitraiy dominion, in confequence of 
which the immediate neceflary condition of 
their acceptance with him is not an imitation of 
his moral attributes, and obeying his precepts 
of eternal righteoufnefs to which their confci- 
ences bear witnefs, but fomcthing elfe fubfli- 
tuted in the room of that, which it is pretend- 
ed he hath revealed, or which men havein-* 
vented; fuchaperluafionmuftgoagreatlength 
in unhinging the true foundations of hope to- 

Vo L. III. A a wards 



354 ^'^^ Foundation of 

Serm. wards him and fear of his difpleafure, which 
XIV. I have endeavoured to fhew both fcripture 
and reafon eftabliflii and, indeed, a great 
way in defeating the work of the law 
which is written in our hearts. The tradi- 
tions of men concerning rites and ceremo- 
nies which they fondly imagine will pleafe 
God, as our Saviour teacheth, tend to make 
void his moral precepts : And yet even thefe 
falfe notions of the Deity, and of religion, 
have not altogether extinguifhed this light 
which the Author of nature hath put into our 
minds, or fubverted the foundations of hope 
and fear arifing from the teftimony of con- 
fcience which are fo deep laid in our hearts. 
When a man hath brought himfelf to that 
pernicious opinion concerning the validity 
and fufficiency of external ads to pleafe 
God, the merit of others, good but ineffec- 
tual inclinations, or any fuch like things 
which may be feparated from doing fincerely 
i]\t will of our heavenly Father^ ftill he dares 
not altogether truft himfelf on that bottom ; 
fufpicions will arife of felf- deceit, and a con- 
fcience acculing for crimes unrepented of 
and unreformed, will break in upon his 
peace, threatening him with the divine 
difpleafure. On the other hand, the righte- 
ous is bold as a lion^ he pofleflcth undifturbed 

tran- 



Confidence towards God, Explained. 355 

tranquillity, is free from the foreboding ap- SeRM. 
prehenfions of vengeance which haunt the XIV. 
guilty heart j nay, maintaineth his integrity 
in the deepcft diiirelTes, and amidfl the re- 
proaches of men j if even all the world 
ihould join in condemning him, fince he 
aequitteth himfelf, his confidence towards 
God remaineth unfhaken. 

As thefc fentiments are indelibly im- 
printed on the human mind, and necellarily 
refult from our conftitution, of which God 
is the author, we muft afcribe them to him. 
His will is declared in the nature of things, 
and they all ferve his purpofes. Inanimate 
beinss in their conftant motions, and the 
ferieb of their operations, fulfil the law of 
their natures j and fenfitive creatures, di- 
redted by their inftinds, always anfwer the 
ends of their being which he hath ap- 
pointed ; fo it is impoffible for us to doubt 
but that the fundamental laws of the rational 
nature are his will ; and that, in judging and 
ading according to them, we judge and aft 
agreeably to his mind. Therefore, feeing 
the author of our being hath endued us with 
that power which we call confcience, a 
power of felf- reflexion, of comparing our 
own difpofitions and actions with a rule en- 
graven en our hearts, whence necefiarily 
A a 2 arifeth 



■356 ^be Foundation of 

Serm. arifeth pleafure and pain j and this natural- 
XIV. ly leadeth us to the prefaging expediations 
of the divine judgment, according to the 
judgment we pafs upon ourfelves 5 we can- 
not help concluding that thus God fpeaketh 
to us, and maketh known his pleafure ; 
that in ad:ing and judging according to the 
plain unalterable didates of our nature and 
reafon, we pleafe him, and in counteracting 
them we rebel againft his will, which he 
difapproveth. The original ideas of mora- 
lity, which we find in our own minds, it is 
not in our power to change; nor can we 
think otherwife, than that they are agree- 
able to the fentiments of all other moral 
agents > it is by them we form our notions 
of the divine moral attributes, only remov- 
ing from our idea of God the imperfed:ions 
we find in ourfelves; and, therefore, we 
inuil iudge that what we neceffarily approve 
upon a calm and deliberate reflection, he 
will approve; and what we condemn, he 
will condemn alfo. And, 

Lajily^ Let it be obferved, that the judg- 
ment of God is of a very peculiar kind, al- 
together unparallelled in human judicature ; 
for reafon teacheth, and the fcripture very 
expreiHy, that not only external actions will 
come under its cognizance, nor will it pro- 
ceed 



Confiilcnce towards God^ explnified. ^cy 

ceed oniy according to external evidence, Serm. 
but that it reaclieth to the moft private and XIV. 
latent fprings of adlion, and the inward af- 
fedtions and dilpofitions of the mind, undif- 
cernable by any human, or, indeed, any 
created eye, and knov^^n only to the fearcher 
of hearts, and to the fpirit of a man which 
is within him. Every work^ and every Je^. 
cret thing, 'whether it be good, or whether it 
be evil, fhall be brought before the divine 
tribunal i and when the Lord cometh, he 
will bring to light the hidden things of dark- 
nefs, and make manifejl the counfels of the 
heart; and then every man fiall have that 
praife, that due eftimate put upon him and 
his works, which is according to truth. It 
followeth that the mind itfelf, being the 
principal fcene wherein the works to be 
tried were tranfacfled, the equity of the fen- 
tence to be pronounced on mpn will be ma- 
nifeft to themfelves, which it cannot be un- 
iefs their confcience witneffeth the linceritv 
or infmccrity of their works upon whith the 
fentence is founded ; and not only that it 
giveth this teftimony at the time of judg- 
ment, but that it judged the fame way when 
the works were done j at leafl:, would have 
judged the fame way but for its own fault, 
that is, its inattention and prejudices ; for 
A a 3 without 



^j8 ^he Foundation of 

Serm. without this it feemeth utterly inconceiv- 
XIV. able, that the heart can juftify God. Upon 
the whole, then, it appeareth that if the 
heart, confcious of its own inclinations, pur- 
pofes, and actions, condemneth itfelf, it is 
the fureft evidence we can have of God's 
condemning -, and if the heart divefted of 
prejudice, not confcious of the prevailing 
love of darknefs and evil deeds, and careful 
in its inquiry, doth not condemn, it is the 
greateft certainty we can attain to of the 
divine approbation. 

I proceed now to draw forne ufeful infe- 
rences from what hath been faid. Firft, it 
is a dangerous miftake to place the hope of 
men's acceptance with God, not upon the 
goodnefs of their affedions, and the inte- 
grity of their hearts, but upon the truth of 
their opinions, and the reditude of their 
external ad:ions in themfelves, and abftraftly 
conlidered. It is the former of thefe which 
is the proper objed of the mind's teftimony 
and judgment concerning itfelf, not the lat- 
ter, of which we have not in many cafes a 
fufficient certainty. Upon a review of what 
pafieth in our minds, our inclinations, de- 
figns, our motives of adion, and our whole 
condudl, they who are impartially fo difpo- 
fed, can well diftinguifh between what is 
2 right 



Confidence to'wards Gody explained. 359 

right and wrong in a moral fenfe, that is, S e r m. 
between fincerity and infincerity j and as XIV. 
fincerity is the thing we moft approve, and 
the very beft which we can call our own, 
it muft appear to us equitable, that by it, 
or the contrary, we fhould be juftified or 
condemned : But by the mere knowledge 
of truth and right, no man can aflure his 
heart before God ; it doth not give him any 
fatisfadion in himfelf, as integrity doth, nor 
confidence towards God j fo far from it, 
that our knowledge of the will of God, if 
it hath not a proper influence in forming the 
temper of our minds, and directing our be- 
haviour, will aggravate our guilt, and render 
us the more obnoyious to his difpleafure. 
Thus the apoflle James faith to fome who 
valued themfelves upon the found nefs of 
their belief, as that which would recom- 
mend to the favour of God, chap. ii. 19. 
Thou believeth there is one God^ thou doji 
well; fo far it is right, but utterly infuffi- 
cient to eftablifh any hope of acceptance 
upon, for this plain reafon, the devils alfo 
believe and tretnble, Thofe creatures who, 
above all others, are irrecoverably loft to 
goodn^fs and to hope, being referved in 
chains unto the laft judgment, they believe 
rightly concerning that great articl? of reli- 
A a 4 gion, 



:> 



6o The Foundation of 

.Seum, gion, the unity of God, and other articles 
a1 V . ^ likewife, for probably they have a more ex- 
tenlive knowledge than any of mankind ; 
but what is the effe6l of their knowledge 
and their faith ? inflead of giving them con- 
lidence towards God, it maketh them trem- 
ble under the apprehenlions of his wrath ; 
and fo, in proportion, it mufl do in all 
minds which detain the truth in unrightc- 
oufnefs. 

Shall it be faid that the principles of re-. 
ligion which God hath manifefled, whether 
by the light of nature or pofitive revelation, 
with a clearnefs fufficient to render ignorance 
inexcufable, and his laws injoining our duty, 
have a precife determined meaning, how 
then can we be accepted with him, if we 
come fliort of that meaning, either in our 
belief or our pradice ; if our fentiments are 
not conformable to the truth which he hath 
declared, and if we do not really and effec- 
tually fulfil the true intent of his law, by 
doing the very actions it requireth ? I an- 
fwer, this reafoaing is founded on a miflake 
concerning the nature of the obligations 
which God hath laid us under as reafonable 
creatures ; which obligations do not imme- 
diately terminate in the affent of our under- 
ftanding?, not properly fubjedt to a law, 

nor 



Confidence towards God, explamed. 361 

nor in the fabftance of outward actions, as S e r M. 
that whereby they are fatisfied : But the XIV. 
lawgiver, to whom all things are naked and 
manifeft, and who hath endued us with 
felf-refled:ing powers, and a fenfe of good 
and evil, he demandeth our hearts, the pro- 
per exercife of our afFed:ions, and of our 
ad:ive felf-determining powers : Our opi- 
nions are neither morally good or evil, other- 
wiie than in confequence of this primary 
obligation ; all the virtue which is in them, 
is derived from integrity of good affediions, 
and a diligent application of our minds to 
the difcovery of truth ; and for external ads, 
as the intention of the divine law is not 
completely fulfilled in tliem, they are no 
farther neceifary to our acceptance, nor doth 
the confcience itfelf lay the flrefs of its con- 
fidence upon them any farther, than as they 
are the certain evidences and infeparable 
fruits of good inward difpofitions. 

But though wrong opinions in religion 
and morals, are only fo far criminal as they 
proceed from depraved affetTtion or negli- 
gence ; when they are embraced, they tend 
to increafe that depravity of heart and cor- 
ruption of manners. This is the cafe of 
fuperftition, which hath produced very mif- 
chievous effeds in the world. When men 

have 



5 62 ^he Foundation of 

S E R M. have imbibed falfe notions of the Deity, and 
XIV. the way of pleafing him, their minds are 
corrupted from the limphcity of a rational 
devotion j inftead of which, they run into 
empty forms and idle ceremonies, nay, into 
barbarous and unnatural crimes. But fuch 
falfe notions do not at all excufe the crimes 
which they produce, becaufe, as I have al- 
ready obferved, they are themfelves faulty 
in the foundation of them, proceeding from 
inattention, and efpecially from a defei' : of 
good difpofitions, or the prevalence of c il 
ones J and becaufe the wicked courfe of 
adions to which they lead, is diredtly con- 
trary to that fenfe of good and evil fo deeply 
engraven on .the minds of men, as to con- 
demn their vices in fpight of all pretences 
to juflify themfelves. This the apoftle Faul^ 
in the ifl to the Romans^ illuftrateth in the 
inftance of the Gentile idolatry introducing 
a deluge of vice ; he faith, they went into 
mod abfurd opinions concerning* the divine 
nature, changing ihz glory of God into ima- 
ges-, and the confequence was, that they 
were abandoned to vile afFedions, and to 
the mofl heinous unnatural wickednefs in 
pradice. But then he iheweth wherein the 
real malignity of their errors, and the un- 
happy fruits of them confifted 3 their erro- 
neous 



Confidence tcivards God, explained. 363 

ncous opinions did not proceed from weak- Serm. 
nefs, but they held the truth in unrighteouf- XIV. 
nefs J they knew God, but perverfely would 
not glorify him, nor were thankful -, they 
became vain in their imaginations; and 
ver. 28, Becaufe they did not like to retain 
God in their knowledge, they were given up 
to a reprobate mind 5 and the progrefs of 
their vices he doth not impute merely to 
their erroneous opinions, but to their lulls 
rebelling againfl the voice of reafon and con- 
fcience. 

I have infifted fo much on this fubjedt, 
not merely becaufe the miftaken notion I 
propofed to refute is an error in fpeculation, 
but efpecially becaufe it has a very bad in- 
fluence on pradice. When men have once 
got into this perfualion, that their true reli- 
gious belief, and the regular conformity of 
their external ads to the letter of God's law^ 
will recommend them to his favour, their 
attention is diverted from the goodnefs of 
their affedions, and the uprightnefs of their 
hearts, which is the only juft foundation of 
confidence ; and thus their religion degene- 
rateth into hypocrify. Thus the Jenvijh 
zealots, whofe falfe pretences are largely re- 
futed by St. James in his epiftle, imagined 
that their faith would fave them, while 

they 



064 ^'^''' Foundation of 

3 E R M. they 'were contentious ^ and obeyed not the 
XIV, truths but obeyed iinrighteoufnefsy and prac- 
tifed cruelty. And the Pharifees placed 
their hope of acceptance on the exadl ob- 
fervance of pofitive inflitutions, and the out- 
ward appearance of fandity in their lives, 
while they indulged themfelves in pride and 
covetoufnefs : But our Saviour fheweth their 
infincerity, comparing them to whited fe- 
fidchreSy which appear outwardly beautiful^ 
but within are full of dead inens bones and all 
uncle annefs ', fo they appeared righteous be-- 
fore men^ but within were full of hypocrify 
and iniquity ; and in proportion, ftill fo far 
as this dangerous notion prevaileth, finccrity 
is neglected, which only can ixnder us ac- 
ceptable to God, 

Not only fo, but men judge the fame 
way of others as they do concerning them- 
felves, and imagining they have got poffef- 
lion of the orthodox faith, and what they 
call the true religion, that is, the right modes 
of woriLip, and other outward performan- 
ces, they pronounce damnation on all who 
differ from them. Hence arife mutual ha- 
treds, contentions, and animoiities, about 
religion, whilfl real religion, that is, fince- 
rity, is not at all attended to -, hence perfe- 
cution for cgnfcience fa^e, and under the 
2 pretence 



Confidence iorcards God, explained. '3^5 

pretence of charity. Tvlethinks it flioulJ be Serm. 
a flrong prejudice pgainft the opinion I am XIV. 
now coniidering, that it produceth fo much 
mifchlef among men ; but at the fame time 
it is founded on a grofs error concerning 
God, and his way of proceeding in judging 
men, and concerning the nature of religion. 
What can induce men to impofe on the 
confciences of others, and punifh them for 
not complying vvith their rehgious decrees ? 
The moil charitable account is, that they 
think in thefe things religion confifleth, and 
by them men will be acceptable to God : 
But feeing human authority is ufed, and 
force, it is evident there is an oppofition of 
judgment, and the compliance of the per- 
fecuted mufl be againft the light of their 
confciences, for which, according to the 
doftrine of this text, they are felf-condem- 
ned, and the only juft foundation of their 
confidence towards God is dcflroyed. Thus 
it is apparent that perfecution, in all its 
kinds and degrees, and in the befl light in 
which it can be fet, inftead of promoting 
religion, it can only be defended and prac- 
tifed on the ruins of fincerity, in which 
true religion confifteth ; and inftead of tend- 
ing charitably to render men acceptable to 
God, the natural tendency of it is to fubvert 

the 



366 The Foundation of 

Serm. the only juft ground upon which they can 
XIV. have hope towards him. 

2^/y, It is to be regretted that fome arti- 
cles of chriflianity itfelf have been perverted 
to purpofcs contrary to their true defign, 
particularly contrary to the dodrinc of this 
text } efpecially what the gofpel hath taught 
concerning the mediation of Chrift, his fa- 
crifice, and our jufliiication by faith in him, 
hath been fo mifapplied. It is the principle 
of the jintinomians, that chriflians are fo 
only juftified by faith in his imputed righte- 
oufnefs, that they are difcharged from all 
obligation to obey the divine moral precepts, 
as necefTary to their acceptance with God. 
This opinion hath by fome been carried 
into pradice, who theifeupon have aban- 
doned themfelves to licentious immorality 
with confidence; though, indeed, good men, 
who have contended for it in fpeculation, 
have, through the flrength of their virtuous 
afFedions, efcaped its pernicious influence. 
But many there are who, without examin- 
ing carefully the principle, place their hope 
towards God on the merits of Jefus Chrift, 
while their hearts condemn them 5 at leaft, 
if they confidered, would condemn them for 
wilful tranfgreffion unrepented of and un- 
reformed. If any fuch dodtrine were taught 

in 



Confidence towards God, explained. 367 

In the New Teftament, it would be a ftrong S e r m. 
prejudice againft it j for what man, atten- XIV. 
tively confidering the conftitution of his own 
mind, will believe that there is, or can be, 
any juft ground of hope towards God, while 
his heart doth not acquit him of hypocrify 
and iniquity ? or who that underflandeth 
and is perfuaded of the divine moral attri- 
butes, without which religion is loft, both 
natural and revealed, can think that God 
would require men to receive a principle 
which diredly tendeth to overturn the obli- 
gations of morality, which our Saviour ex- 
preflly difowneth, for he, near the beginning 
of his miniftry, telleth a great afTembly, that 
He came not to deftroy the lau^ but to fulfil 
it. But that this is not the dodrine of the 
facred writers, my text is a plain proof, and 
fo are many other of their declarations. 
Muft not every one who dealeth fairly by 
the gofpel, and coniidereth it impartially, 
be convinced that the dtCign of it is what 
St. Paul faith it is, namely, to teach us, that 
de?iying u?igodlinefs, and ivorldly lufis, we 
Jhould live foberly, righteoufiy, and godly ^ in 
this prcjent world ; and upon that founda- 
tion only look with confidence /^r the blefed 
hope. Is not the favour of God conftantly 
promifed to the virtuous and good, and his 

wrath 



36S 'The Foundation of 

Serm. wrath denounced againft the impiety and 
XIV. unrighteoufnefs of men ? It is true that, in 
the gofpel, great virtue is attributed to the 
blood of Chriil, it cleanfcth us from all fin ^ 
it purgeth our confciences from dead works to 
ferve the Having God; and by it God hath 
reconciled the world to himfelf, 7iot imputing 
their trefpajjes : But all this is not intended 
to fuperfede the necejffity of repentance and 
new fincere obedience ; for the fins which 
we truly forfake, bringing forth fruits meet 
for amendment of life, and unallowed infir- 
mities, we have the higheft aflurance that 
they fhall not be imputed ; and the mercy 
of God, manifefted in the death of Chriil, is 
the great confirmation of our hopes : But to 
carry our confidence further, and to expert 
the forgivenefs of the fins in which we ob- 
ftinately perfift, becaufe he died for usy and 
gave full fatisfaBion for our offences^ is to 
make him the miniller of fin. 

I conclude with an exhortation, always to 
preferve a facred regard to confcience : See- 
ing its approbation is of fo vaft moment, ,the 
only ground upon which we can affure our 
hearts before God, we fhould pay a fubmif- 
five refped to its dilates, and maintain its 
rights inviolable, for they are the rights of 
its 2:reat and fole Lord. We fhould always 

hear 



Cojifidence io'wardsGDdj explained. 369 

hear, its voice againll: any thing that maySERM» 
come in competition with it, whether the XIV. 
perfuafion or authority of men^ or our own 
paffions, worldly interefls, and felfilli trfiec- 
tions : If we do not follow its.diredio!i in our 
conduct, we cannot hops for its' approving 
teftimony upon a review of it. It is true 
you will be even in this method liable to 
miftakes, and fo you will in every method 
you can take, for infallibility is not the pri- 
vilege of the human underflanding * but al- 
ways fludy fincerity, that is, be diligent and 
unprejudiced in your inquiry, that you may 
know your duty, and impartially follow the 
beft judgment you can make. This will 
fupply the want of infallibility to the pur- 
pofe of our acceptance with ttiat, equitable 
judge,' who hath himfelf fo framed our na- 
ture, that it is the very beft way we can ad:. 

The doiftrines of the gofpel canccrnrng the 
free Grace of God and the dea.th of Chrill, 
may then be improved to our ponfolation ; 
we have entrance with boldnefs into the divine 
prejence by the blood p/.J-eJ us ^ if we draw 
near with a true hearty in the a'ffura?ice of 
faith ^ having our hearts (pri?ik!ed frojfi an 
evil cmfciencc^ and our bodies wajhed with 
pure water ^ Heb. x. 22. 

Vol. III. Bb S E R- 




[ 370 ] 

SERMON XV. 

Walking by Faith, not by Sight, 
explained and recommended. 

, . , . , , . . . .— — ^— — — 

2 CORINTHIANS V. 7. 

For we walk by faith not by fight, 

THERE is nothing more becoming 
fuch reafonable creatures as we are, 
than upon mature deliberation to fix fome 
certain principle as a general rule whereby 
to govern our lives, and conflantly to adhere 
to it. The leaft attention to what pafTeth 
in our own minds, will convince us that 
there are various fprings of aflion in them ; 
we have afFedtions, appetites, and paflions, 
of different tendencies, and which deter- 
mine us to the purfuit of different obje<fls, 
as much fo as heaven and earth, as fpirit 
and body, as the improvement of know- 
ledge and the gratification of fenfe, as the 
mental pleafures which arife fi'om moral 
good, and the low enjoyments which are 
common to men and brutes. But every 

man, 



Walking by Faith ^ not by Sight, &c. 371 

man, who thinketh at all, muft fee that the Serk. 
true perfe<i.tion of his nature doth not con- XV. 
Jfift in, and his higheft happinefs doth not 
depend upon, the gratifying without any 
controul or reftraint every inclination or dc* 
fire which happeneth to arife in him. There 
is an order eftablifhed by the Author of our 
being, that the true ends of it may be ob-* 
tained ; there muft be harmony, otherwife 
the human conflitution is an unfinifhed 
piece, not like the other works of God> 
which hive all of them the plain charaders 
of wife dellgn appearing in their beautiful 
union, the parts, howevcrvario us, being m\i~ 
tually related to each other, and all agree-* 
ing in one common end. Now, if there is 
order and harmony intended originally in 
the frame of our minds, and if it be neceflary 
to the defign of our being and the higheft 
enjoyment we were made for,- there muft 
be government; a fiibordination of fomc 
afFedlion-s to others, fo as the former fliall 
be gratified only by the permifTion of the 
latter; all the atflive powers muft be under 
a law to exert themfelves only in fuch a 
manner, atid to fuch a degree, as one go~ 
verning principle direcfteth. Of this we hav<^ 
a plain and fufficient evidence in ourfelves, 
namely, that we cannot allow an unreftrain- 
Bb2 c<i 



372 Walking hy Faith ^ not by Sight ^ 

S E R M. ed indulgence of every inclination or appetite 

XV. with the approbation of our own minds. We 
can never be happy in any thing while we 
are uneafy in ourfelves, I mean, while pain 
and difcontent arife from a review of our own 
actions; but this is unavoidable when we 
ad: contrary to our fenfe of moral good and 
evil : Now, it is the firft law of our nature,, 
that we fliould be juftified to ourfelves, 
which we can never be, without fubjecfting 
all our defires and adive powers to con- 
fcience. 

Still it is to be remembered that we are 
voluntary Agents, and as fuch muil purfue 
the ends of our being -, our happinefs and 
the perfe(Stion of our nature refult from the 
actions which we chufe to do, indeed, they 
alone are properly our adions j ive are not 
like maay other creatures, which necelTarily, 
and without any adivity of theirs, fulfil 
what is called the law of their nature, but 
fuch is our conftitution, that the ends 
of it can only be attained by the exercife 
of our liberty, and by an adive obedience 
to the laws which God hath given us. We 
are not under a necelfity of ading according 
to the diredion of every inftind in our na- 
ture, but find in ourfelves a power of fufpend- 
ing the execution of v/hat we are prompt- 
ed 



exphi lied and recommended. 373 

ed to, and of deliberating, that we may S e r m. 
freely do what to our own underllandings XV. 
appeareth in the whole to be bcft. Thij 
(lieweth the advantage of what I mentioned 
at firft, fome certain principle fixed as a ge- 
neral rule whereby to govern our lives : To 
run haftily into every adion or courfe of 
a(5tion to which we are prompted, is un- 
worthy of intelligent beings, for the reafons 
already inlinuated j to go through the pro- 
grefs of a laborious inquiry upon every- par- 
ticular cafe, without having any fettled 
maxim, to which we may appeal and be 
determined by it, would embarrafs our un- 
derftandings, and involve them in perplex- 
ing difficulties ; whereas to have an invari- 
able rule ready at hand with which we can 
compare every point we are confidering^ 
leads to a juft and eafy decifion: la fadt, 
it may be truly faid in fome fenfe> that 
every man doth fo condudl himfelf, whether 
he attendeth to it or not ; he hath either a, 
principle, or fome prejudice that hath the 
force of a principle, which guldeth his 
whole courfe. What multitudes of man- 
kind are there, who being accuftomed to 
an uncontrouled gratification of their appe- 
tites and pafhons, or having learned from 
their childhood, and merely from the exr 
B b 3 smpk 



374 Walking by Faith ^ not by Sights 

'S E R M. ample of others, a certain manner of ading, 
XV. go on in the fame beaten track without ever 
enquiring into the grounds of it ; and thefe 
habits and prejudices are as a law which con- 
tinually diredeth them. Others more wifer 
ly confider the reafons of their condudt, 
and have certain principles upon careful exr 
amination approved to their own minds, 
to which they refer their meafures as to a 
fettled rule which conftantly determinet^ 
them. 

The apoflle in the text mentioneth two 
principles of operation in the human mind, 
diredly oppofite to each other ; the one he 
rejedeth, the other he declareth to be the 
eftablillied rule by which he conduced his 
own life, and indeed, the common rule of 
chrifiians ; we walk by faithy itot by fight. 
In the preceding part of this chapter he 
treateth of the glorious hopes in a future 
flate which we have by Jefus Chrift, which 
he carrieth io far as to a full afliirance 
that whcfi the earthly houfe of thh taberfiacle^ 
that is, this frail mortal body, JImll he dif- 
fohedy we fhall have a building of God^ an 
hoife not made with hands ^ eternal in the 
heavens. The efFedl which this expectation 
produced was a mofl: earneft and folicitous 
defire of that eternal happinefs which was 



to. 



explamcd and recommended. 27 S 

to be confummated at the refurre(5tion of Serm. 
the dead j and a confidence, as he calleth XV. 
it, or a firm and fteady refolution of ad- 
hering inviolably to his duty, whatever temp- 
tations or difficulties he might be expofed 
to. St. P^t^l for himfelf was refolved though 
be knew that bojids and afflidlions did abide 
him, to perfevere in propagating chriftianity, 
and endeavouring to make converts to it ; 
and other chriflians are, at all hazards, to be 
jledfafi and umnoveable, abounding in the 
work of the Lord, making it their chief 
fludy, while they are in the body, and 
when they depart from it, to be accepted 
of the Lord. The animating fpring of this 
fleady refolution and uniform tenor of con- 
verfation i^ faith, or a firm afFedlionate per- 
fuafion concerning the great principles of 
religion, the being, the attributes, and pro- 
vidence, of the invifible God, the reality 
and excellence of piety and virtue, and the 
truth of the gofpel motives, particularly the 
future flate of rewards and punifhments ; I 
fay, it is t\\\s faith, as in oppofition to fight ^ 
which hath a quite contrary tendency, or the 
rafti and hafly judgment of the mind con- 
fining its views to fenfible obie(5ts, and the 
prefent vifible appearance of things. 

Bb 4. 

I ihaU 



376 Walking by Faithy not by Sight, 

Serm. I fhall in the following difcourfe diilin<fl- 
XV. ly confider thcfc tvyo cpjitrary principles of . 
adion, fight anci faiths by which, I hope, 
we fliall fei; tlje reafonabknefs and excel- 
lency of the religious, or the chriftian, life 
conduced by the latter principle, and be de- 
termined to chufe it ', at the fame time we 
may be able to form a true judgment con- 
cerning the character of our own converfa° 
tion. 

Firfty Let us confider what it is to walk 
by fight : As walking in the proper and li- 
teral fenfe is a voluntary motion, it fignifieth 
here, and in the ufual flile of the fcriptures, 
ordering the courfe of our voliintary and de- 
liberate adtions. As we are confcious of our 
being free agents, whofe works depend up- 
on our. own choice, the quellion is, what 
guide we ihall follow in them? That which 
is the moft obvious, and firfl occurreth tQ 
our minds, tbe apoftle here calieth Jight, 
the knowledge conveyed to us by our fenfes, 
and the views we Jiave of the external 
ilate of things in this world. Every man 
knoweth his prefent conflitution to be fuch, 
that a multitude of outward fenfible objeds 
make ftrong imprefiions on his mind : The 
ideas of them are conveyed by various ave- 

nues_, 



explained and recommmded. 377 

npcs, and defires and averfions are excited S e R M. 
by them, which prompt him to a(5tion, lie X^» 
hath appetites which inchne him without 
any refledion at all, to eat, and drink, and 
enjoy other fcnfual plcafures j he hath pain- 
ful fcnfations, which determine him to avoid 
fome things as hurtful ; and the uneafy ap- 
prehenlions of danger whereby he is excited 
to lliun it and provide for his fafety. Thefe 
and fuch hke inftinds or determinations of 
nature belonging to the animal life, are the 
firil: fprings of adion which we perceive in 
purfelves, and they continue to have an in^ 
iluence on us through the whole of our pre- 
fent flate J not as principal or the governing 
part of our conftitution, for the attentive 
mind will difcern in itfelf higher capacities 
and affedions, which juftly claim the domi- 
nion over its adive powers; but fome of 
degenerate mankind are fo far loft to a fenfe 
of the dignity and privileges of their beings 
as to fubjed themfelves to the aifedions of 
the animal nature, as if there were nothlns: 
more noble in them than the brutes : In 
this criminal, which the brutes are not, that 
they voluntarily difhonour their fuperior con- 
dition, and degrade thofe excellent powers 
with which God has diftinguiftied them. 
J'his is what God pronounced concerning 

^he 



378 , Walking by Faith, not by Sight, 

Serm. thegrofHy corrupted human race, whom he 
^^' therefore deftroyed with a flood, Ge?t. vi. 3. 
that they were flefi ', their minds fo carnal, 
and thereby their manners fo depraved, that 
they were become unfit for that rank in his 
creation, which he had appointed for them. 
This is the very lowed fenfe of walking by 
light, and yet fo prevalent it is in fome 
men, and fo governeth their difpofitions, as 
to form their temper and true charader. 
The Epicurean philofophy, ignorant of God, 
and deftroying all the principles of religion, 
placed the chief good of man in pleafure ; 
and to a vicious tafte, the pleafures of the 
external fenfes are the highefl : But it pre- 
vaileth more in the affections of many men 
than in their fpeculations, and the language 
of their hearts is truly expreffed by the 
apoflle, I Cor. xv. 32. Let us eat and drink, 
for to-morrow we die. Let us prefer ve our- 
felves as long as we can in the free enjoy- 
ment of all the pleafures of the animal 
life, for when we die there is an end of us 
and all our enjoyments for ever ; In like 
manner Solomon reprefenteth EccL xi. 9. 
the fpirit and fixed ruling inclination of the 
licentious youth, to walk in the way of his 
hearty and the fight of his eyes, without con- 
sidering that for all this God will bring him 

intQ 



explahied and recommended. 379 

into judgment. Nay, the fame author feems, S e r M. 
by way of penitential confeflion, to fpeak XV. 
of himfelf as far gone in the fame profligate 
temper, chap. ii. 10. Whatfoever mine eyes 
defiredy I kept not from them : I with-held 
not my heart frojn any joy : What can this 
mean but that he did not check any of his 
inclinations ? He had no rule over his own 
fpirit^ his appetites and paflions j but grati- 
fied every defire which was excited by his 
fcnfes, which is to walk by fight in the 
"worft manner, as the moll voluptuous men 
do 3 who, as the apofile faith, Titus m. 3. 
Are foolijh^ difobedienty and deceived^ Jerv- 
ing divers lufls and pleafures. 

2.dlyy Another fort of converfatlon, not io 
grofily fenfual, may be comprehended in 
walking by fight : Every one knows that 
the human life is diftino-uifhcd from that of 
all other living things, with great advantages 
and ornaments, befides thofe which arife di- 
rectly from the purely intelle6lual and moral 
capacities ; tho' thefe capacities themfelves, 
joined as they arc in man to the fenfitive 
life, raife it to a perfection which it could 
never rife to without them : It is eafy to dif- 
cern what an addition both of beauty v^nd 
happinefs, reafon, and the focial virtues 

bring 



380 Walking by Faiths not. by Sights 

Serm. bring to our prefent ftate of being, which 

XV. othervvife it could not be capable of^ but, I 
fay, abflrading from the higheft ufes of 
feafon and moiuiity, which make the mofl 
important difference between man and the 
reft of the animal kinds, there are other 
powers in the human nature which fet our 
condition far above all the brutal fpecies. 
Men have large comprehenfive imaginations, 
which afford them a vafl variety of agree- 
able entertainment ; a fenfe of natural beauty 
in the contemplation of objeds which conti-- 
nually occur to them, and whence they leara 
to divcrfify the pleafures of life by producflions 
of their own art in imitation of nature : Aa 
ability of communicating their fentiments, 
and thereby mutual aid and comfort to one 
another by fpeech ; 4 fenfe and a defire of 
honour and; approbation from each other, 
which, not to mention any relation it hath 
to virtue, the highefl perfection and im^. 
provement of human nature, and thegreateft; 
ornament of human life^ yieldeth a delight 
to the mind, far fuperior to any we have by 
external fenfes, and produceth eiFedls very ad^ 
vantageous tq fociety. : In thefe refpedls the 
life of man hath a great pre-eminence above 
die beafts; it is rendered much more ele-* 
gant as well. as. hiippy > and its fphere both 
2 cf 



explaified and recommended. . . ''^%i 
of adlion and enjoyment greatly enlarged, Serm. 
though ftlll far (hort of the excellence which XV. 
might be attained by -the d'ueufe of our high- 
eft capacities. Now, how many are there 
of mankind who form their fchemes For life, 
and take the meafures of .'their condud:, by 
no higher principle ? Solomon is an eminent 
example, who giveth this account of him- 
felf in the days of Jiis vanity, ILccJef, ii. froni 
the 4th verfe, I made me'greai/uborhy Ihuild* 
ed houfeSy I plttnted 'vineyardsy 1 made gar deiis 
and orchards,' Md planted trees in them of all 
kinds of frtii'ts. . X made po'oh-of water to water 
therewith the wood that bring^th' forth trees, 
I got jfie fer'vdnts and ?naldem, and had fer- 
va?2ts born in my houfe ; alfo I had great 
P^JPJpo?is of great and fmall cattle, I ga^ 
thered me cilfo flher and gold, and the pe^ 
culiar treafiire of kings and of the proijinces : 
I got me men fngcrs and women fingers, and 
the delights of the fins oj inen, as mufical 'iti* 
firuments of all Jorts, How many would 
think themfelves happy, snd their enjc>y- 
ments of life complete, in fach a fituati'on ? 
But that wife king, reflecting maturely upon 
it, pronounces all to be vanity and vexation 
of fpirit ; furely we may iay, that being 
wholly confined to the prefent ftatc, and 

abftraa:- 



382 Walking hy Faith, not hy Sighi^ 

S E R M. abflrading from all regard to religion, and 
XV. all profpeds in another world, it is walk* 
ing not by faith, but by fight. 

'^dly^ Befides the defires originally plant- 
ed in our nature, which have been already 
mentioned, to objeds introduced by the ex- 
ternal or internal fenfes, and which are a very 
powerful principle of operation in our minds ; 
befides thefe, I fay, there are fecondary in- 
clinations to thofe things, which are con- 
iidered as the means of obtaining the grati- 
fication of our primary defires ; and the 
converfation or courfe of deliberate adion, 
which is formed or diredled by them, is alfo 
comprehended in walking by fight. One 
who hath lived any time in the world muft 
have obferved, that riches and power are 
ordinarily neceffary to acquire and fecure the 
poffeflion of worldly enjoyments ; therefore 
proportionably to the degree in which thofe 
enjoyments are valued, and the earneflnefs 
with which they are purfued, the means 
of them are alfo fought after. Every one 
mud be fenfible with what eagernefs men 
labour for riches and power, and how great 
a fhare the acqiiifition of them hath in the 
bufinefs of life 5 it is for this they rife early 

and 



exphi'med and rccG?mn ended, 383 

and fit up late, and eat the bread of forrows j S e r M. 
for this they fubmit to incefTant toil, and, XV. 
generally fpeaklng, the more fuccefsful they 
are, ftill they become the more folicitous, 
and the more diligent. And it is as plain 
that thefe lufts ruling in the human mind 
corrupt it, and direding the general tenor 
of a man's life they form a charadler con- 
trary to what St. Paul^ in the text, claimeth 
for himfelf and his fellow difciples of Chrift, 
rejoicing in it, and to what he elfewhere 
calleth a converfation in heaven. The ten- 
dency and the effed: of them rifeth no high- 
er than ,this prefent world, and they termi- 
nate not in the rational and virtuous, but in 
the merely animal life ; as the apoftle John 
in other words explaineth the fame doc- 
trine, the lujl of the eyes, and the pride of 
life, that is, the prevailing defire of wealth, 
and of power, and honour, is the love of the 
worldy inconfiftent with the love of the fa- 
ther, or pure and lincere religion. Not 
but wealth and power may be improved to 
the purpofes of piety and virtue, and for 
that end, may be lawfully, if they be mode- 
rately, delircd and purfued -, indeed it is from 
this capacity that they derive their beft ap- 
pearance, and the chief pretence by which 
the profecution of them is juftified to the 

mind 



3 §4 Walking by Paifhy not by Sights 

S ERM. mind itfelf. But when religion is made little 

XV. more than a pretence, and the heart is con* 
fcioos to itfelf that the other ufes of worlds 
ly emoluments are principal in its view, and 
the ruling motives to its defigns, and its di- 
ligence are taken from them, fuch a walk 
may be juftly faid, to be by fight^ and not by 
faith 3 and this is the true character of all 
our defigns aftd endeavours, whether for 
ourfelves or others, which ukimately termi- 
nate in jthe prefent fl.ate» 

I come now, in tht fecond-^iAct^ to cdn- 
fider the diredlly oppofite principlcj that is^ 
Jaith, which giveth a quite diiferent turn to 
the temper and converfation of men, and 
v/hlch the apoflle reprefenteth as the ani- 
mating and governing principle of his own 
life, and the lives of all fincere chriftians j 
ive "walk by faith, not by fght. No one 
that readeth the New Teflament can be 
ignorant of its laying great flrefs on believ- 
ing as abfolutely Kf-cefTary to our accep- 
tance with God, and as the great principle of 
religion. Chriflianity itfelf, or the gofpel 
' fcheme, as in oppofition to the law of Mofes, 
IS called faith, by the obedience of which 
men are juftified 3 plainly intimating, that 
not the -'performance of external rites' and 

cere- 



explained dfid recommended. 3 S ^ 

ceremonies will recommend them to the fa- Se rm. 
vour of God, but an afFeftionate pcrfuafion Jj^ 
concerning the fundamental dodrines after 
godlinefs, producing fuitable difpofitions of 
mind, and a fuitable praftice. But it is not 
merely to the truth contained in the chriftiafi 
revelation, or the light in which it fetteth 
religious doctrines, that thefe great effeds are 
attributed : Abraham Was juftified by faith, as 
well as we are ; he believed God, and it 'was 
counted to him for right eoufnefi ; he had a deep 
affeaing impreffion of the being, the per- 
fedion, the providence and the promifes of 
almighty God j and he walked before him, 
making his faith perfeSl by good works. And, 
in general, the apoftle teacheth us, Heb. xi. 
that without faith it is impofibk to pleafe 
God', for he that cometh to God, or would en- 
ter into a religious courfe of life, muf believe 
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all 
them who diligently feek him ; which are doc- 
trines not peculiar to chriftianity, but the ef- 
fential principles of natural religion. For un- 
derftanding this the better, let it be obferved, 

Firft, That nothing can be more abfurd 
than oppofing faith to reafon ; as if it Were 
a blind credulity or an aflent to propofitions 
as true, without confidering or inquiring 

Vol. III. Cc into 



386 Walking by Faith, not by Sight , 

Serm. into the evidence upon which it is founded. 
XV. So the mind of man is fram'd, that fome ideas 
and perceptions do neceflarily arife in it from 
external objects, or by an attention to its own 
powers and operations. There are alfo felf- 
cvident truths, which we cannot help alTenting 
to as foon as they are intelligibly propofed. But 
the principles of Religion are not of this fort ; 
the exiftence of God himfelf^ the firfl: of 
them all, we have not fuch an intimate know- 
ledge of as we have of our own exiftence, 
but muft by fearching find it out, that is, 
colled; it by reafoning, or infer it from the 
exiftence of other beings, and from other 
truths firfl difcerned and acknowledged 5 
upon this foundation the underflanding pro- 
ceedeth to difcover the divine attributes and 
works, and by confidering the relations we 
and other creatures fland in to God and to 
each other, attending at the fame time to 
the fcnfe of good and evil indelibly written 
in our hearts, we are convinced of moral 
obligations, and are enabled to form a fyftem 
of duty which is the proper guide of life. 
In like manner chriftianity is fo propofed to 
us that we may have a rational perfuafion 
of its truth 5 the divine Author of it 
and his apoftles addrelTed their dodrines to 
the underhand in gs of men, fapporting them 

with 



explained and recommended. 387 

with proper arguments to induce an intelli- Serm, 
gent belief J fuch as the figns, wonders, and XV. 
divers aiiracles, which were worked for con- 
firming them i the evident accompllfhment 
of ancient prophecies in the principal fads 
recorded in the gofpel, which are the main 
articles of our faith, befides the intrinlic good- 
nefs of its precepts, and their perfedl agree- 
ablenefs to the beft fentiments oftheliuman 
mind : Thus God as a law-giver dealeth 
with us according to that conftitution of our 
nature, of which himfelf is the Author. 
Our minds are capable of no other obliga- 
tion with refpeft to points of belief, than to 
examine impartially, and without prejudice, 
that we may affent upon rational grounds \ 
and this is all he requireth. Some indeed have 
advanced and endeavoured to impofe upon 
others a quite different notion of faith, as if 
it were a confident perfuafion founded upon 
mere authority, not only without, but di- 
redly contrary to, reafon^ this hath had 
very unhappy efFecSls. The tendency of it 
is to turn religion into nonfenfe and abfurdity, 
and to prejudice men againil: it as an affront 
to their underflandings, only calculated for 
fools J and in the believers themfelves it 
hath produced nothing but fuperflition and 
enthufiafm inf^ead of a reafonable fervice. 
C c 2 But 



388 Walking by Faith ^ not hy Sight , 

S E R M. But as the mind of man was not made for 

-^V- fuch a faith, indeed duly exercifing its in- 
telledual powers, is not capable of it, how- 
ever fome, by llrong prejudices and ftupid 
thoughtlefFnefs, may get into a confufed no- 
tion which they call believing ; fo let us 
never imagine that it is countenanced by the 
fcriptures, which are written for ivife meriy 
and able to judge what is f aid. Particularly, 
the faith which the apoftle fpeaketh of in 
the text, and by which he and other chri- 
ftians walked, is oppofed to fight or fenfe, 
hot to reafon, of which it is the noblefl ufe 
and improvement j and the obedience of 
faith is refignation, not of our underftand- 
ings, but of prejudices and corrupt affec- 
tions, 

2dly^ It is abfolutely neceffary that the 
great effential principles of religion, both 
natural and revealed, be duly attended to, 
and maturely confidered, that they may 
have their proper effed. It is not enough 
that we have been once fully fatisfied con- 
cerning the truth of them, and given our 
affent even upon the moft juft and rational 
foundation ; they muft be frequently re- 
viewed, and made the fubjedt of our de- 
figned and deliberate meditation, in order 
to their having a fuitable influence on our 

temper 



/) 



explabied and rccomnwided. 389 

temper and pradllce ; for they do not ope- S e r m. 
rate like the ideas of feniible objedls, which XV. 
immediately and neceillirily excite defire, and 
prompt to ad:ion, but by calm and attentive 
refled:ion they enter into the heart, and cap- 
tivate the aiFcdions. Experience fheweth, 
that the mofl important truths, even known 
and believed, often lie dormant in the mind 
like points of ufelefs fpeculatidn, without 
producing any fuch difpofitions, or fuch a 
converfation as they tend to j which is the 
cafe of the mofl abandoned and profligate 
finners, whofe crimes are highly aggravated 
by their being committed againfl: convidlion. 
One caufe of this furprizing appearance, fo 
difagreeable one would think to the confti- 
tution of the human nature, is flupid inat-r 
tention, which in many cafes, and particu-r 
larly in religion, hath the fame eifed that 
ignorance hath. As there can be no affec-^ 
tion to that which is altogether unknown, 
and confequently it cannot ingage us in any 
profecution j the objedt which is not attended 
to, is in this refpect as if it were unknown ; 
no deiires are excited, the mind feeth no 
importance in it, feeleth no attradive force. 
This feemeth to be the cafe of the unfruit- 
ful hearers of the gofpel, defcribed by our 
Saviour in his parable of the fower : They 
C c 3 hear^ 



390 Walking by Faith j not by Sight y 

Se KM. bear, but they do 7iot underfiand y which 
XV. doth not proceed from an incapacity, for 
then it could not be imputed as a fault, but 
from carelefs inattention j the caufe whereof 
generally is, that vicious inclinations, by 
habitual indulgence, have got the afcendant 
in the heart, rendering it infenfible of the 
beauty and the great advantages of rehgion ; 
but whatever the caufe be, negledling to 
apply its thinking powers to the conlidera- 
tion of important fubje<5ls intelligibly pro- 
pofed, is properly the guilt and the reproach 
of a reafonable creature 3 and the prophet 
Jfaiah had reafon to call upon tranfgreflbrs 
X.ojlde'm themfelves men, by bringing to mind 
or ferioufly attending to the proper motives 
of action J for that is an obligation from 
which rational and moral agents can never 
difcharge themfelves. And this I take to 
be an elTential ingredient in the crime of 
unbelief, which is reprefented in the gofpel 
as fo heinous, and whereby fo many linners 
come fhort of falvation. 

3 J/)', That faith may be the governing 
tDrinciple of our lives, it muft be rooted in 
the affedions as well as the underftanding, 
and the objects of it have the full approba- 
tion and confent of the mind. The leafl 
reflexion will enable us to diflinguifli be- 
tween 



explaiiicd C7ict recommended. 3 9 1 

tween a naked afTent to truth, and a deep Serm. 
afFeding imprefTion of the fubjed:, as of the XV. 
higheft dignity and worth, or of the utmoft 
confequence to ourfelves ^ the former, be it 
ever fo firm, frequently reviewed, and care- 
ililly attended to, hath no influence at all 
on the fprings of adion : Thus we know 
there are many fpeculative truths difcovered 
by dihgent obfervation and abftrad reafon- 
ing, mofl certainly believed, and very en- 
tertaining to the mind, which yet have no 
relation to, nor any effect on practice j but 
there are certain inftindlis or determinations 
in cur nature, which fet all its adive powers 
a-work, and without firft moving them, no 
objedt can have any fliare in determining our 
condudl, or can engage our purfuit, what- 
ever light it may appear in to the under- 
flanding. There is a determination in the 
human mind to approve of moral excellence, 
and affections to it are a part of our confti- 
tution i felf-love alfo is infeparable from our 
nature; but neither of thefe operateth ne- 
ceflarily in the bell manner, and to their 
producing their proper and regular cffed?. 
The objects mull be fet in a juft light, which 
is the province of faith : We cannot help 
approving moral rectitude and goodnefs 
when it is fairly reprefcnted 3 but it is in 
C c 4 our 



392 Walking by Faith , not by Sight ^ 

Serm. our power, by inveterate prejudices, to vi- 

JCV". tiate our tafte, and even harden our hearts 
into ari jnfenfibility of the beauty ofholinefs. 
In like manner it is impoflible to extinguifti 
the defire of happinefs ; but jt is pofHble, 
and indeed too ufual, to pervert and mif- 
apply it, fo as to prefer trifles to things of the 
greateft moment, and, inftead of a wife at- 
tention to our true jnterelt, to purfue low 
and tranfitory enjoyments, as if the whole 
of man, the all of his happinefs, confifled 
in them j which proceedeth not from want 
of felf-love, but mifplacing it j and through 
'the influence of corrupt partial afl^ed:ion 
misjudging the means whereby our true hap- 
pinefs is to be attained. Upon the whole, 
then, the true notion of faith, as a principle 
to walk by, is compleated in thefe three 
articles, a right undcrflanding of religious 
truths, thofe, I mean, which are efl^ential 
and diredly tend to a good life, an attentive 
confideration of them, and receiving them 
in love. This faith is a moral virtue, in- 
deed the root of all moral virtues 3 fo it is 
always reprefented in fcripture, and fo it is 
properly injoined as the refult of all our mo- 
ral obligations : For as the due exercife of 
our rational powers will directly lead us to 
the knowledge and belief of the great fun- 

dam.ental 



cxplai7ted and recommended, 395 

damcntal principles of religion, and nothing Serm. 
can be more apparently our duty, as men, XV. 
than to apply our minds to the ferious con- 
fideration of them, fo the affedtions planted 
in our hearts will even naturally terminate 
on them, as excellent in thcmfelves, and of 
the greateft importance to our happinefs, if 
the courfe of thcfe affe(5tions be not wilfully 
and obftinately obftrudted by violent con- 
traded prejudices and prepofTeflions. 

Having nov/ finilhed the explication 
which I propofed of thefe two diredtly 
oppofite principles, faith and fight, I leave 
it to yourfelves to judge which is the more 
reafonable and becoming you. In govern- 
ing ourfelves, and taking the meafures of 
our condudl by the one, that is, fight, we 
only provide for the lower part of our na- 
ture, and for a very ihort duration j all our 
cares are employed about the enjoyments of 
the body, of the fenfes, and the imagina- 
tion, of a tranfitory life which is but the in- 
fancy of our being j the fuperior powers of 
our minds are negleded, or not exercifed in 
a proper manner, and to anfwer the ends 
they were defjgned for. What a difparage- 
ment is it to reafon, capable of difcerning 
fubllme truths, and entertaining the mind 
with high pleafure, to be ufed wholly in 
:^ the 



394 Walking by Faiths not by Sights 

SERM.the fervice of this animal life and its inte- 

XV. refls ? And how deplorable is the condition 
of the human heart, when its beft affedlions, 
capable of yielding the nobleft enjoyment, 
are altogether uncultivated and unexercifed ? 
How unworthy of an immortal fpirit are 
the views of the men who walk by fight ? 
the men whofe profpeds do not reach be- 
yond the limits of this fliort and uncertain 
life ? One would think a regard to the dig- 
nity of our nature, and the rank it holdeth 
in the creation, fhould raife a refentment 
againft fuch difhonour done to it. Hath 
God allied us to the world of fpirits, and 
made us capable of contemplating the no- 
bleft objed:s, even himfelf, and of being 
like him, which the fcripture calls partak- 
ing of a divine nature ; and fhall we chufe 
to confine our views to this earth, and to 
have our portion in it ? Let us at leaft wifely 
confider where our true interefl lieth, and 
what is the courfe of life in which we may 
expedl the greateft happinefs. It is impof- 
fible, if we would, to extinguilL the powers 
of reafon and confcience altogether -, if we 
do not fuffer them to reign, they will at 
leaft reproach us for the indignity done 
them, fo feverely, as to pall the pleafures of 
life, and make us feel the moft bitter and 
2 inward 



explained and recommended, 39^ 

inward pains, which Solomon calleth wounds Serm. 
of the jpirit^ and faith, 7io man can bear XV. 
them. And as we cannot help having anxi- 
ous foreboding thoughts of futurity, no man 
can fatisfy his mind, upon rational evidence, 
that he fliall not fubfiil in another flate after 
this life is ended j what defence is there 
againfl: the difmal apprehenfions of unhap- 
pinefs in it ? So that our condition in walk- 
ing by fight, is both mean and mifcrable. 
But faith exalteth the human nature, and 
raifeth it to the divine likenefs ; it enlargeth 
the intellectual powers, entertaining them 
with obje<fls which, though unfeen, are cer- 
tain, and of the moft tranfcendent excel- 
lence, fuch as God himfelf, the beauty of 
holinefs, and the glories of another world ; 
it is the fubftance of things hoped for, and 
the evidence of things not feen 3 maketh the 
invifible Deity, with all his amiable per- 
fe(5lions, intimately prefent to the mind, the 
fubjedl of its mofl affed:ionate and delightful 
contemplations ; and it is fully convinced, 
not in the way of an enthufiaftic wilful per- 
fuaflon, or fuperftitious bigottry, but by a 
calm attentive confideration of rational evi- 
dence ; the mind, I fay, is fully convinced 
that there is an important reality in the hap- 
pinefs of good men in a future ftate 5 upon 

this 



396 Walking by Faith, not by Sight, 

Serm. this foundation faith elevateth the affedtions 

XV. to divine things, it exciteth fervent defires 
to the perfedion of virtue, producing an in- 
violable refolution to purfue it conftantly as 
the greatell good of man j it fupporteth the 
mind under all difficulties, and enableth it 
to refift and to conquer temptations, and 
giveth an heavenly turn to the temper and 
the whole converfation, v^^hich is formed 
upon the motives of religious virtue, parti- 
cularly the hope of feeing God hereafter 
more perfed:ly than he can be feen now, 
and being fully fatisfied with his likenefs. 

If there be fuch aa excellence in faith, if 
it fo improveth the powers of the believing 
mind, and exalteth its condition, how much 
are we indebted to the mercy of God for 
the chriftian revelation ? The principal ob- 
jecfls of faith are the being, the perfecflions, 
and counfels of God towards men, and that 
he Is a rewarder of them who diligently feek 
him. Thefe points are clearly difcovered in 
the gofpel : A^^ man hath feen God at any 
time, the only begotten Son, which is in the 
bofom of the Father, he hath declared him, 
John i. 18. And he hatb brought life and 
immortality to light through the gofpel. If 
therefore we have embraced this revelation 
upon a full convidion of its truth and divine 

authority. 



eicplaitied and recommended. ^ 97 

authority, it may be reafonably expeded we S e R m* 
fhould do 7nore than others ; that our affec- XV. 
tionsjlmdd be fet on things above ^ that being 
renewed i?i the fpirit of our minds, ivefioidd 
prove ivhat is the good, and acceptable, and 
perfect ivill of God, and that we fhould live, 
as the apoftle faith he did, Gal. ii. 20. by 
the faith of the fon of God, that is, order 
our whole converfation conformably to his 
do(5lrine. 

In concluiion, let us every one for our- 
felves judge whether we walk by faith or 
fight, or what is the true charadler of our 
temper and converfation. One would think 
it fhoi>ld not be very difficult for men to 
know the governing principle of their own 
adlions ; what are the motives which ge- 
nerally influence them, and the views they 
habitually and uniformly purfue ; yet fo it is, 
that many deceive themfclves in this im- 
portant matter j they are confcious of be- 
lieving the truths of religion, and pay fome re- 
gard to it in practice, at leaft, fo far as to attend 
its pofitive inftitutions, and abflain from grofs 
a6ts of impiety, at the fame time their affec- 
tions to things on earth are very ftrong, and 
they have a principal fhare in their purfuit. 
I hope what hath been faid may affift us in 
determining this point, if we are difpofcd 

to 



39^ Walking by Faith y not by Sight, &c. 

Serm. to examine impartially. Do the objeds of 
XV. faith engage our attention, and have they the 
afcendant in our hearts above all others ? 
Are the things of the world, the pleafures 
of fenfe, riches, and honours, purfued in 
fubordination to them ? Are virtue know- 
ledge, temperance, patience, godlinefs, and 
charity added to our faith ? And doth it 
produce the works of righteoufnefs habitu- 
ally in our lives ? For by them it is that 
faith is made perfedl ? If it be fo, we are 
in Chrifi Jefus^ and Jh all be accepted as lieirs 
according to the hope of eternal life* 



^he End of the Third Volu me. 



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